February 24, 2015

Senator Gillibrand & Congressman Higgins Announce Award Of More Than $2 Million For Roswell Park Study On Breast Cancer Metastasis

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressman Brian Higgins today announced a Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) researcher has received a five-year, $2.01 million grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to explore the paradoxical observation of how normal cells of the body influence the progression of breast cancer.

“The battle against breast cancer is ongoing and it’s critical that we invest in cutting-edge, life-saving cancer research,” Senator Gillibrand said. “I am pleased the Roswell Park Cancer Institute has been awarded this federal grant to fund vital research to better understand this disease. While breast cancer continues to claim the lives of our loved ones, with the right investments in research, prevention, diagnosis and treatment, families will have better access to resources needed to help combat this terrible disease.”

“This federal grant reaffirms the National Cancer Institute’s confidence and commitment to the cutting-edge research happening right here at Roswell Park Cancer Institute,” said Congressman Brian Higgins.  “Investments like this not only continue economic momentum along the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus but help to advance Roswell Park’s mission and the nation’s goal to better care for and save the lives of those touched with cancer.”

Scott I. Abrams, PhD, Professor of Oncology and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Immunology at Roswell Park, earned the competitive funding for his proposal to investigate the role of a particular type of blood cells, macrophages, in the development of metastatic breast cancer. 

“We have never fully understood how macrophages, which under normal circumstances are critical in the fight against diseases, are sometimes reprogrammed to do just the opposite and aid in the progression of diseases like cancer," says Dr. Abrams. "We believe that through the manipulation of a key gene in macrophage biology, cancer cells are able to control the type of macrophage response and reinstruct those cells to enable rather than thwart the disease process. We hope to uncover the key mechanisms at work here, which we believe in the long term will change the way we think about breast cancer metastasis and lead to more effective cancer therapies."