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Research is the driving force behind Delta’s efforts to raise funds and generate awareness for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Because of this research, there has been a 40 percent decline in breast cancer deaths and there are currently 3.5 million survivors in the U.S. today. But there’s still more to do, which is why Delta is proud to partner with BCRF, the highest-rated breast cancer organization in the country, to help put an end to this disease.

Since 2005, Delta employees, customers and their friends and families have raised $16.8 million for BCRF, including last year’s efforts of $2.1 million. These donations fund vital research and awareness programs aimed at putting an end to breast cancer.

Delta employee and customer-donated monies are fully funding eight BCRF research grants in the 2019-2020 year. These projects span Australia/New Zealand, Israel, Italy, France and London, as well as throughout the U.S. in New York, Seattle, Michigan and Atlanta.

Delta-funded researchers are covering the entire spectrum of breast cancer research – from a focus on high-risk women, to improving the quality of breast cancer screening and diagnosis in underserved populations to understanding metastatic disease – when the tumor spreads to different organs of the body – and developing new treatment strategies for aggressive forms of breast cancer.

Learn more about the eight BCRF research grants supported by Delta-donated funds in 2019-2020 below. More information on how to donate is available here.

Jack Cuzick, PhD, FRS, CBE │ London, United Kingdom (Queen Mary, University of London) & Prudence Francis, MD│ Melbourne, Australia (University of Melbourne)  

Co-Investigators - Australia and New Zealand Breast Cancer Trials Group

Drs. Cuzick and Francis through the Australia and New Zealand Breast Cancer Trials Group, are working to identify protein and gene biomarkers that will improve risk assessment in women at high risk of developing breast cancer. With BCRF support, Drs. Cuzick and Francis are growing their high-risk breast cancer bio-bank, which is a collection of blood and tissue samples, mammograms, and clinical data from women enrolled in breast cancer prevention and treatment trials. This resource will help them determine which types of breast cancer will respond to different kinds of preventive treatment. Collaborating with researchers around the world, the team will collect samples and data from women taking part in several upcoming trials. By gathering samples and data from women enrolled in clinical trials, Drs. Cuzick and Francis hope to identify biomarkers that will help them understand why some patients respond to therapy and others do not, and to identify patients at high risk of recurrence.

Hedvig Hricak, MD, PhD │New York City, New York (Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center)
With BCRF support since 2004, Dr. Hricak’s global, world-class clinical research training program has provided radiologists from around the world with intensive, individualized instruction in breast imaging interpretation and clinical research methodology. Her work is helping to establish standardized best practices and fostering international collaborations to improve patient care and outcomes. Over the next year, Dr. Hricak’s team will continue to recruit and train leaders in breast imaging, which will provide them with the capacity to influence clinical practice and research, as well as health policy relating to breast imaging in their communities.

Gad Rennert, MD, PHD │ Haifa, Israel (Clalit National Israeli Cancer Control Center)
Dr. Rennert’s work focuses on understanding the variation in the course of breast cancer in different women. With the support of BCRF, Dr. Rennert is collecting the world’s largest series of newly diagnosed breast cancer patients (almost 10,000 patients) with full clinical annotation and molecular characterization. This allows them to study various aspects of disease behavior including response to treatment, recurrence of tumor, and overall survival. Using this series of newly diagnosed cancer patients, they can identify markers to predict recurrence that leads to a change in treatment and more personalized care. ​

Rosette Lidereau, PhD │Paris, France (Institut Curie)

Dr. Lidereau’s BCRF project focuses on understanding the processes involved in metastasis, particularly how tumor cells can migrate, or move from one place to another, a characteristic that normal breast cells do not have. Her lab has identified an essential protein called Kindlin-1 that causes tumor cells to become mobile and increases their ability to invade neighboring tissue, and in the coming year, she will continue her work to better understand the role of kindlin-1 in the dynamics of tissue architecture and breast cancer metastasis. These studies may lead to new therapeutic strategies for aggressive breast cancers.

Anne McTiernan, MD, PhD │Seattle, Washington (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, University of Washington)
Obesity increases risk for postmenopausal breast cancer and negatively impacts breast cancer survival. With support from BCRF, Dr. McTiernan is working to determine the effects of weight loss and exercise on breast cancer risk factors in postmenopausal, overweight or obese women by measuring several blood markers of breast cancer in this population. The knowledge gained from these studies will help determine the feasible lifestyle changes that women can make to reduce risk for breast cancer and improve prognosis.

Sofia D. Merajver, MD, PhD │Ann Arbor, Michigan (University of Michigan)
In the coming year, Dr. Merajver will continue to develop laboratory tools to help guide therapies to prevent metastases in women with aggressive breast cancers worldwide, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa where healthcare resources are scarce. They have designed and are testing simple synthetic devices that mimic the organs of the body where breast cancers typically spread. By placing live cancer cells from breast cancer patients inside the devices, they can study which cells are able to spread to distant sites, even before a tumor would be clinically detectable. Their goal is to be able to selectively eliminate those cells most likely to impact patient survival in a personalized manner for each patient.

Stainislav Emelianov, PhD │Atlanta, Georgia (Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory School of Medicine)

Dr. Emelianov’s work focuses on developing novel strategies for breast cancer imaging and image-guided therapy. Dr. Emelianov and his team have created new medical imaging devices and agents to detect, differentiate, treat, and monitor breast cancer and lymph node metastases. This technology will help provide a comprehensive approach to the clinical management of breast cancer. His team’s investigations will be focused on the imaging of regional lymph nodes of breast cancer patients. His research may lead to the development of an imaging platform capable of non-invasive and safe diagnostic imaging and image-guided therapy of breast cancer.​

Luca Gianni, MD │Milan, Italy (Michelangelo Foundation)

Dr. Gianni’s BCRF project is working to improve response to immunotherapy in triple-negative breast cancer. His work has advanced the understanding of how chemotherapy given before surgery can trigger the immune system to attack and eliminate TNBC tumors. This work, along with his research of biomarkers that could predict response to immunotherapy, may help determine which patients would benefit from chemotherapy alone and those who would have a better response to a combination of chemotherapy and immunotherapy. Dr. Gianni and his team will launch a clinical trial in patients with early high-risk and locally advanced TNBC. They will compare the effects of adding an immunotherapy drug (atezolizumab) with chemotherapy versus chemotherapy alone.

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