Breast Cancer Research Foundation Awards Grant | Loyola Medicine
Monday, October 27, 2014

Breast Cancer Research Foundation awards prestigious grant to two Loyola investigators

Organization names Loyola researchers among world's leading scientists


MAYWOOD, Ill. (October 23, 2014) The Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) has awarded a grant to Kathy Albain, MD, FACP, and Clodia Osipo, PhD, to further their research at Loyola University Health System's Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center. Drs. Albain and Osipo received $250,000 for being among the world's leading breast cancer scientists who are accelerating breakthroughs, improving outcomes and saving lives.

Dr. Albain, a medical oncologist, and Dr. Osipo, a basic science researcher, are co-leaders of Loyola's Breast Cancer Research Program. Their research involves a novel therapeutic approach to treat breast cancer.

Existing cancer drugs are effective in killing mature cancer cells. But cancer stem cells, present in very small amounts in breast cancers, are resistant to such drugs. They survive and go on to develop into new tumor cells, resulting in cancer growth, and spread to other parts of the body. A pilot study by Drs. Albain and Osipo found that an experimental drug known as a "Notch inhibitor" appears to block this process and prevent the survival and spread of drug-resistant breast cancer stem cells.

BCRF will award $47 million this year to 222 leading researchers at medical institutions across six continents. Grantees are selected through a highly competitive review process and then are given the creative and intellectual freedom to pursue what they believe to be the most promising research directions for their proposal.

Drs. Albain and Osipo, whose BCRF award was underwritten by The Housewares Charity Foundation, will use the funds to support their ongoing research involving the Notch protein. This protein is present on the surface of cancer cells. It promotes tumor growth and survival by latching on to other cells and activating various genes in the stem cells that make them resistant to common cancer drugs.

In the coming year, Drs. Albain and Osipo will focus on how the Notch protein regulates genes to cancer survival and drug resistance and the role for anti-Notch drugs to reverse this process. This research may ultimately help to predict breast cancer stem cell survival and patients who are likely to relapse as well as provide a new therapeutic option with anti-Notch drugs.


About Loyola Medicine and Trinity Health

Loyola Medicine, a member of Trinity Health, is a quaternary care system based in the western suburbs of Chicago that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, MacNeal Hospital and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services from 1,877 physicians throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital in Maywood that includes the William G. and Mary A. Ryan Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, Illinois's largest burn center, a certified comprehensive stroke center and a children’s hospital. Having delivered compassionate care for over 50 years, Loyola also trains the next generation of caregivers through its teaching affiliation with Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine and Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. Gottlieb is a 247-licensed-bed community hospital in Melrose Park with 150 physician offices, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park. MacNeal Hospital is a 374-bed teaching hospital in Berwyn with advanced inpatient and outpatient medical, surgical and psychiatric services, advanced diagnostics and treatments. MacNeal has a 12-bed acute rehabilitation unit, a 25-bed inpatient skilled nursing facility, and a 68-bed behavioral health program and community clinics. MacNeal has provided quality, patient-centered care to the near west suburbs since 1919.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic healthcare systems in the nation, serving diverse communities that include more than 30 million people across 22 states. Trinity Health includes 94 hospitals, as well as 109 continuing care locations that include PACE programs, senior living facilities and home care and hospice services. Its continuing care programs provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually. Based in Livonia, Mich., and with annual operating revenues of $18.3 billion and assets of $26.2 billion, the organization returns $1.1 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. Trinity employs about 133,000 colleagues, including 7,800 employed physicians and clinicians. Committed to those who are poor and underserved in its communities, Trinity is known for its focus on the country's aging population. As a single, unified ministry, the organization is the innovator of Senior Emergency Departments, the largest not-for-profit provider of home health care services—ranked by number of visits—in the nation, as well as the nation’s leading provider of PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) based on the number of available programs.