The SPORE in Breast Cancer
Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center's SPORE in Breast Cancer, established in 2003, is one of only five in the country, and focuses on innovative, translational research for better diagnosis, prognosis, screening, prevention and treatment of breast cancer.
The Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center SPORE in Breast Cancer has established a true multidisciplinary program focused on conducting multidisciplinary, mechanism-based, translational research of the highest possible impact that will contribute meaningfully to measurable progress in breast cancer. Our investigators have expertise in cellular signaling and molecular biology, breast pathology, medical, surgical, and radiation oncology, clinical trial design, epidemiology and population studies, mass spectrometry, biostatistics, and biomedical informatics.
The Breast SPORE supports several initiatives including four scientific research projects, five cores that provide essential services to SPORE projects, a developmental research program to support pilot projects, and career development opportunities for physician-scientists in training.
Breast SPORE Research Projects
The SPORE in Breast Cancer supports four research projects aimed at addressing basic, clinical and population research questions of importance in human breast cancer. All projects are translational and multidisciplinary and are led by co-investigators from multiple departments across the School of Medicine, with complementary basic science and translational/clinical expertise.
Learn more about our Breast SPORE research projects and cores.
Mechanisms of Resistance to Endocrine Therapy in ER+ Breast Cancer
- Clinical co-leader: Brent Rexer, MD, PhD
- Basic co-leader: Carlos L. Arteaga, MD
- Basic co-investigator: Ariella Hanker, PhD
- Patient advocate: Janet Piper
Strategies to Improve Outcomes for Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Patients Integrating Subtype-Specific Genomic and Immune-Based Discoveries
- Clinical co-leader: Vandana G. Abramson, MD
- Basic co-leader: Jennifer A. Pietenpol, PhD
- Basic co-investigators: Brian Lehmann, PhD and Alissa Weaver, MD, PhD
- Patient advocate: Patricia [Patty] Lee
Targeting the DNA Damage Response in Breast Cancer
- Clinical co-leader: Vandana Abramson, MD
- Basic co-leader: David Cortez, PhD
- Basic co-investigators: Violeta Serra, PhD, Kimberly Dahlman, PhD, Deborah Lannigan, PhD and Mark O’Connor, PhD
- Patient advocate: Lynn Cargen
Targeting Antigen Presentation to Improve Immunotherapy Responses in Breast Cancer
- Basic co-leader: Justin M. Balko, PharmD, PhD
- Basic co-investigator: Brent Ferrell, MD
- Patient advocate: Linda Horton
The Developmental Research Program (DRP) supports pilot projects that allow early, high-risk research to move solid basic science findings toward clinical application, as well as the migration of provocative clinical observations back to the laboratory in order to understand their mechanistic basis.
The main criteria for selection and funding of developmental (pilot) projects include scientific merit, relevance to mammary biology and/or breast cancer, collaboration and potential for extramural peer-reviewed funding. There also is an emphasis on utilization of emerging technologies and on young investigators.
The aims of this program are:
- To support junior and established investigators conducting high-risk, innovative research applicable to breast cancer
- To support mechanistic investigation in the laboratory of provocative clinical observations
- To support progression of DRP projects to extramural funding and peer-reviewed publications
- To focus on emerging technologies and approaches applicable to translational research in breast cancer
Learn more about our Breast SPORE Funding Opportunities as well as funding through other programs.
The VICC SPORE in Breast Cancer announces a Developmental Research Program (DRP) pilot funding opportunity focused on catalyzing innovative and transformative, breast cancer-related projects that promote discoveries in basic and translational research focused on metastatic disease. This funding aims to support junior and established investigators conducting high-risk, innovative research to support the generation of preliminary data required for the submission of external, breast cancer-relevant grant applications (e.g. R type, DOD).
Funds are available to qualified faculty from Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Vanderbilt University, Meharry Medical College and Tennessee State University. Up to two $50,000 grants will be awarded for one-year projects beginning in August of 2020, with the possibility of renewal for a second year based on measurable progress of impact.
Ranking will be by peer review, based on novelty and scientific merit with consideration given to the projects with relevance to metastatic breast cancer. A major criterion for this mechanism will be the perceived probability that the research project will lead to the submission of a competitive research grant application to the NCI or similar major source of extramural funding. The purpose of this program is not to serve as the sole source of funding for small projects, but rather to catalyze the generation of relevant preliminary data needed for a larger study. Other factors to be considered in the review will be the areas of expertise of the investigator(s), and the value of the project to the cancer research priorities of the VICC.
Improving the quantity and quality of opportunities for training in translational research is of vital importance for the success of the Breast SPORE as well as for the successful application of progress made in the laboratory to our ultimate goal: a reduction in the incidence, morbidity and mortality resulting from breast cancer.
The Career Development Program achieves these goals by:
- The recruitment, support and development of young physician-scientists and laboratory-based translational/clinical investigators (MD and MD/PhD) into breast cancer research
- The recruitment, support and development of young basic scientists (PhD) into mechanism-based applied research in breast cancer
- Recruiting outstanding basic scientists into breast cancer research and providing clinical and translational expertise to this research
- Providing translational research mentorship, training, and opportunities for investigators to develop the knowledge, skills and expertise to successfully pursue independent, extramurally-funded scholarly careers focused in translational research in breast cancer
- Recruiting women and underrepresented minority investigators into research in breast cancer
The VICC SPORE in Breast Cancer announces a Career Enhancement Program (CEP) funding opportunity which aims to attract, develop and mentor promising basic, translational and population-based research scientists, including physician scientists, into breast cancer research. The goal of this funding is to support junior and established investigators who wish to enhance or refocus aspects of their research in breast cancer for the generation of preliminary data required for the submission of external, breast cancer-relevant grant applications (e.g. R type, DOD).
Funds are available to qualified faculty from Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Vanderbilt University, Meharry Medical College and Tennessee State University. For CEP, junior faculty are defined as investigators at the rank of assistant professor or equivalent who are eligible to apply as a principal investigator for grant support from national agencies (e.g., NIH, ACS, NSF). The investigator must be within six (6) years of their first independent research or faculty appointment and have a commitment from the institution for salary and space. Up to two $50,000 grants will be awarded for one-year projects beginning in August of 2020, with the possibility of renewal for a second year based on measurable progress of impact.
Ranking will be by peer review, based on novelty and scientific merit with consideration given to the projects with relevance to breast cancer. A major criterion will be the perceived probability that the research project will lead to the submission of a competitive research grant application to the NCI or similar major source of extramural funding. The purpose of this program is not to serve as the sole source of funding for small projects, but rather to catalyze the generation of relevant preliminary data needed for a larger study. Other factors to be considered in the review will be the areas of expertise of the investigator(s), and the value of the project to the cancer research priorities of the VICC.
Gene expression in triple-negative breast cancer in relation to survival.
Wang S, Beeghly-Fadiel A, Cai Q, Cai H, Guo X, Shi L, Wu J, Ye F, Qiu Q, ZhengY, Zheng W, Bao PP, Shu XO.
Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2018 May 10. PMID: 29748761.
Selective mTORC2 Inhibitor Therapeutically Blocks Breast Cancer Cell Growth and Survival.
Werfel TA, Wang S, Jackson MA, Kavanaugh TE, Joly MM, Lee LH, Hicks DJ, Sanchez V, Ericsson PG, Kilchrist KV, Dimobi SC, Sarett SM, Brantley-Sieders DM, Cook RS, Duvall CL.
Cancer Res. 2018 Apr 1;78(7):1845-1858. PMID: 29358172
Intrinsic apoptotic pathway activation increases response to anti-estrogens in luminal breast cancers.
Williams MM, Lee L, Werfel T, Joly MMM, Hicks DJ, Rahman B, Elion D, McKernan C, Sanchez V, Estrada MV, Massarweh S, Elledge R, Duvall C, Cook RS.
Cell Death Dis. 2018 Jan 17;9(2):21. PMID: 29343814
DNA methyltransferase inhibition upregulates MHC-I to potentiate cytotoxic T lymphocyte responses in breast cancer.
Luo N, Nixon MJ, Gonzalez-Ericsson PI, Sanchez V, Opalenik SR, Li H, Zahnow CA, Nickels ML, Liu F, Tantawy MN, Sanders ME, Manning HC, Balko JM.
Nat Commun. 2018 Jan 16;9(1):248. PMID: 29339738
PIK3CA C2 Domain Deletions Hyperactivate Phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K), Generate Oncogene Dependence, and Are Exquisitely Sensitive to PI3Kα Inhibitors.
Croessmann S, Sheehan JH, Lee KM, Sliwoski G, He J, Nagy R, Riddle D, Mayer IA, Balko JM, Lanman R, Miller VA, Cantley LC, Meiler J, Arteaga CL.
Clin Cancer Res. 2018 Mar 15;24(6):1426-1435. PMID: 29284706
View the full list of VICC Breast SPORE publications in PubMed
Since 2004, research advocates have been an integral part of the Breast SPORE team, offering patient experiences and perspectives into all aspects of breast cancer research at Vanderbilt-Ingram. These passionate, determined and dedicated volunteers are actively involved helping to bring the best science to those who are affected by breast cancer by contributing in the following ways:
- Attend monthly Breast Cancer Programs and SPORE seminars
- Serve on SPORE executive committee
- Attend project meetings as part of the interdisciplinary team and participate in research discussions
- Review and provide input on research development, design, clinical trials and informed consents
- Develop patient-oriented resources and tools for SPORE clinical trials
- Raise awareness through presentations to patient and community groups
- Facilitate collaborations with local, regional, and national organizations dedicated to breast cancer
- Participate in on-going advocate educational sessions
Meet the Breast SPORE Advocates
Contact the Breast SPORE Team
- For research/medical questions, contact one of the principal investigators: Jennifer Pietenpol, Ph.D.
- For questions about our research advocacy program, contact Abby Shields, Program Manager.
- For questions about SPORE grant pilot funding, contact Julie Schaum, M.S., Associate Director of Research Administration.