By Lisa Brown
Why do African-American women die at a higher rate and experience more aggressive breast tumors than white women? Researchers from Boston University’s Slone Epidemiology Center (SEC) have received funding from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to explore this question. The new grant is based on the premise that having a better understanding of the biology of breast cancer in African-American women will lead to better prevention and treatment.
“Identifying genetic variants related to breast cancer in African-American women will further our knowledge of the disease and may ultimately lead us to better treatments and opportunities for prevention,” said Julie R. Palmer, ScD, senior epidemiologist at BU’s SEC and professor of epidemiology at BUSPH, who is leading the study at BU.
Breast cancer is not a single disease, but a combination of distinct disease subtypes, with varying risk factors and clinical outcomes. However, the reasons for differences in breast cancer biology and disparities in incidence and mortality rates between white and African-American women are not well understood, and existing studies have not been large enough to provide sufficient statistical power to elucidate genetic factors associated with how breast cancers develop. The size and power of this new study could help address the current lack of scientific understanding.
“Health disparities are a problem of great concern for the NCI and one that we are zeroing in on as evidenced by this grant,” said acting director of the NCI, Douglas Lowy, M.D.
This study will seek to identify novel genes and gene pathways that influence breast cancer in African-American women.
This multicenter study will pool data, bio-specimens, and expertise from 18 previous studies of breast cancer among women of African ancestry. The investigators will determine whether genetic variants may be associated with increased risk. Specifically, they will examine:
- The association between genetic variants and the risk of estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer and estrogen receptor-positive breast cancers
- How genetic variants affect major breast cancer biological pathways and whether the effects may differ between African-American women and white women
In addition to Palmer, the research team is being led by Wei Zheng, MD, PhD, from Vanderbilt University, Nashville and Christopher Haiman, ScD, from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. Experts from five other institutions will join them in gathering information and biospecimens from 20,000 breast cancer cases
Palmer’s major research interest is the etiology of breast cancer, with a particular focus on African American women. She was instrumental in designing and implementing the Black Women’s Health Study, a cohort study of 59,000 women, and has served as co-investigator of the study since its inception in 1995. She is the director of genetics research in the Black Women’s Health Study and has spearheaded efforts to use DNA from study participants in studies of the genetics of breast cancer, other cancers, lupus, uterine fibroids, type 2 diabetes, and sarcoidosis.
She is one of the three multiple principal investigators who organized a collaborative NCI Program Project AMBER (African American Breast Cancer Epidemiology and Risk) Consortium, which combines data, germline DNA and tumor tissue samples from four epidemiologic studies of breast cancer in African American women for identification of factors related to specific breast cancer subtypes.
Reference: Breast Cancer Genetic Study in African-Ancestry Populations. Grant Number 1R01CA202981-01
No shuttle services, including the HealthNet patient shuttle.
The BUS (Boston University Shuttle) will NOT operate. Please visit www.bu.edu/thebus for additional information.
All parking facilities will be open.
All subway lines will operate on a Sunday schedule.
Buses will operate on a Sunday schedule except for the CT1 & CT3, which will not be operating.
Commuter rail will operate on a Saturday schedule.
Hull service will operate on a Saturday schedule.
Charlestown boats will operate on a weekend schedule.
Hingham boats will operate on Saturday schedule.
Beginning at 2 p.m., subway service on all lines will operate at rush hour levels to accommodate increased holiday ridership to the esplanade. Fares will be free after 9:30 p.m.
Customers are urged to take public transportation to and from July 4 events and advised to check http://www.mbta.com/events/ for the most up-to-date service information. Please call TranSComm at 617-638-7473 if you have questions.
The American Heart Association presented its 2016 Gold Heart Award to Professor of Medicine and Assistant Provost for Faculty Development Emelia J. Benjamin, MD, ScM, FAHA. The Gold Heart Award is the highest honor the association gives in recognition of continued, distinguished service. The award was presented at the association’s 2016 Gold Heart Banquet in Dallas on June 21.
Benjamin also serves as a professor of epidemiology at BUSPH, an attending cardiologist and vice chair of faculty development/diversity within the department of medicine at BMC, and an investigator at the Framingham Heart Study. She was recognized by the association for outstanding contributions supporting the development and mentoring of early career investigators. An AHA volunteer since 1992, Benjamin is a member of the Council on Functional Genomics and Translational Biology and was the council’s 2010-12 chairperson. She also is an associate editor for Circulation and the 2015-17 chairperson of the AHA Statistics Committee.
Biomedical Engineering and the Clinical and Translational Science Institute have established a new collaborative program, the Biomedical Bridge BUilders Initiative. It is designed to accelerate the commercialization of clinician-inspired medical device innovations by partnering with graduate engineering biodesign and product development teams.
Clinical care providers on the Medical Campus are invited to email short (one page or less) descriptions of a medical device clinical challenge. These descriptions may be an early product idea or a project that is already underway that could benefit from a team of graduate biomedical engineers (BME), trained in the biodesign product development process. Graduate engineers will work part-time under your clinical guidance while they complete their graduate studies at the College of Engineering. Applications may be submitted immediately with an official “Start Date” for the first projects of Sept. 2. Questions? Email email@example.com.
Teams will consist of a BME faculty supervisor plus four BME students and graduate students from other BU Engineering Departments, if their specialty skills are required. All biomedical team members will have HIPAA training, and all necessary tests and inoculations to be approved as Clinical Observers at BMC. If your idea is selected, you will serve as the Primary Clinical Advisor to the team, meet with them on a regular basis, and serve as their sponsor for their Clinical Observership so that they can see the current Standard of Care firsthand.
Related IP resulting from inventions will be assigned to Boston University or BMC under current Patent Policies. Each initiative is expected to file at least one Invention Disclosure.
On Friday, June 17, Medical Campus students, faculty and staff joined together in a moment of silence and reflection in remembrance of the lives lost and irrevocably changed during the tragedy that occurred in Orlando, Florida. In honor of those no longer with us and to express what cannot be said with words, pianist Moises Fernandez Via performed a short musical piece.
The Boston University Clinical & Translational Science Institute (CSTI) is accepting registration for “Mentoring the Mentor: Training for Clinical and Translational Researchers.” This is a sophisticated interactive training program that uses case studies developed and vetted with other CTSI groups around the country.
All Medical Campus mentoring research faculty are encouraged to advantage of this rare training opportunity geared toward experienced faculty. This is a great opportunity to interact with and learn from colleagues in other disciplines. A certificate will be supplied to include in your training grant applications.
Seminars are held on Wednesdays, Noon-1:30 p.m. and lunch is provided. Questions? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org More information? Go to http://www.bu.edu/ctsi/training-education/seminars-and-workshops/
Space is limited. Registration deadline: Sept. 9.
On Saturday, June 4, students, faculty, and staff from Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine (GSDM) participated in the Healthy Athletes® Special Smiles® initiative at the Special Olympics Massachusetts Summer Games at Harvard University’s Murr Center.
More than 1,800 athletes from the Greater Boston area converged on Harvard University’s Athletic Complex to participate in athletic events such as Aquatics, Gymnastics, Power Lifting, Tennis, Track & Field, and Volleyball. Dentists and dental students were on hand at the Special Smiles clinic to offer oral screenings, health education and prevention services, and referrals to athletes who need follow-up care. They also provided individually-fitted mouth guards to participating athletes.
Special Smiles is just one component of the Healthy Athletes Program offered during the Summer Games. Others include Fit Feet (a podiatry clinic), FUNfitness (physical therapy), Healthy Hearing (an audiology clinic), and Special Olympics-Lions Clubs Opening Eyes (vision).
The Special Smiles clinic was staffed by 30 GSDM volunteers who were joined by volunteers from Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Mount Ida College, and Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, and Delta Dental.
“Special Smiles is a fun and important event and I am proud that GSDM has participated in it for so many years,” said Dean Jeffrey W. Hutter. “Thank you to all of the GSDM volunteers, and especially to Director of Alumni Relations & Annual Giving Ms. Stacey McNamee who works extremely hard every year to organize the Special Smiles event.”
Senior Global Clinical Adviser to Special Olympics Healthy Athletes Special Smiles Dr. Steve Perlman PEDO 76 worked with Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver to start the Special Smiles program in 1993. Dr. Perlman’s passion to eliminate health care disparities for people with disabilities led to the founding of the Healthy Athletes program.
Submitted by GSDM Communications.
The Summer Training as Research Scholars (STaRS) program welcomed 19 high achieving undergraduates to an immersive 10 week summer research experience in laboratories across the Medical Campus. Students are typically rising juniors or seniors.
The BUSM STaRS program, funded by the NIH National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, has trained 48 scholars since 2013, receiving more than 1,400 applications. Trainees work with faculty and fellow students on biomedical research projects, building powerful and lasting relationships. Past participants have been admitted to highly competitive graduate programs and medical schools throughout the country, including programs at BUSM.
Mentors include: Steven Borkan, MD; John H. Connor, MD; Isabel Dominguez, PhD; Andrea Havasi, MD; Feng Hui, MD, PhD; Jiyoun Kim, MD; Matt Layne, PhD; Jennie Luebke, PhD; Laertis Oikonomou, PhD; Dan Remick, MD; Rick Ruberg, MD; Karin Schon, PhD; Francesca Seta, PhD; David Sherr, PhD; Jeffrey Siracuse, MD; Deborah Sterns-Kurosawa, PhD; Richard Wainford, PhD; Renda Weiner, MD; Lee Wetzler, MD; Andrew Wilson, MD.
STaRS officially kicked off on Monday, June 6 and will conclude with a research symposium on Thursday, August 11. More information http://www.bumc.bu.edu/gms/admissions/stars/
The Boston University Clinical and Translational Science Institute (BU-CTSI) offers consultations through the Clinical Research Informatics and Technology Consultation (CRITC) Service for BU/BMC researchers.
The CRITIC consultations help researchers identify, develop and implement the effective and efficient use of information technology and informatics in their clinical studies.
Free 1-hour One-on-One Consultations Are Available
Shanahan is a member of the BU-CTSI’s Clinical Research Informatics Team and Faculty Lead for BU-Profiles and Research Networking. Consultations and short-term services are provided free of charge. More extensive consultations will be offered for a fee.