The Mary Kay Foundation Awards UChicago a $100,000 Grant for Cancer Research

The Mary Kay FoundationSM announced today University of Chicago is among its 2018 cancer grant recipients. The Foundation awards these grants annually to top research institutions in the United States that are conducting innovative research to better understand cancers that affect women. Since 1996, the Foundation has awarded more than $28 million in grants to universities and medical centers around the country.

One in three women is diagnosed with cancer in her lifetime, and this year alone, more than 800,000 women are expected to be diagnosed, according to the American Cancer Society. With cancer being the second-leading cause of death in women, The Mary Kay Foundation has made it a priority to support research of cancers affecting women at U.S. medical schools and research facilities.

This is the second year University of Chicago has received a cancer research grant from The Mary Kay FoundationSM. With this grant, the institution will conduct research aimed at detecting patient-specific neoantigens produced by genomic rearrangements which may help predict which breast cancer patients are are more likely to respond positively to immunotherapy.

The research will be led by Dr. Lixing Yang, who received his PhD from the University of Georgia and his postdoc at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Yang’s research focuses on genomic rearrangements, which change DNA structure, and how they affect disease progression. He also studies the evolutionary process of cancer and genetic alterations in various forms that accumulate over a long period of time to form cancer cells.

Lixing Yang, PhD
Assistant Professor
Ben May Department for Cancer Research (Photo by Jean Lachat)

“This grant from The Mary Kay Foundation affirms the huge potential of immunotherapy to treat breast cancer,” said Dr. Yang. “Currently, there is no immunotherapy available for breast cancer, so identifying the patients for whom it is effective would be a significant breakthrough. Genome-rearrangement-induced neoantigens are usually ignored when profiling tumor tissues. Our work aims to fill in this blank and allow us to better predict treatment response.”

Previous Foundation-funded research at University of Chicago has included studies on the use of precision imaging diagnostics to detect and target metastatic progression in breast and ovarian cancer.

After reviewing more than 160 applications, The Mary Kay FoundationSM Research Review Committee awarded $100,000 grants to 12 cancer research institutions across the country. This year’s grant recipients include the following leading research institutions:

  • Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard Medical School
  • Vanderbilt University Medical Center
  • Rutgers New Jersey Medical School
  • University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
  • UPMC Hillman Cancer Center
  • Weill Cornell Medicine
  • Washington University in St. Louis
  • University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • University of Wisconsin – Madison
  • UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • University of North Dakota
  • University of Chicago

“We have seen previous grants lead to innovative breakthroughs in the study of breast, uterine, cervical and ovarian cancers and are so thrilled with this year’s recipients,” said Michael Lunceford, President of The Mary Kay FoundationSM Board of Directors. “The Foundation’s commitment to cancer research is anchored by our founder’s legacy and carried on by the passion and support of our company and independent sales force to someday find a cure.”

Click here for more information about The Mary Kay FoundationSM and a full list of its 2018 Cancer Research Grant recipients.

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