U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command

September 5, 2003

FY02 Breast Cancer Award Announcement: BC Center of Excellence Awards

Award negotiations for the fiscal year 2002 (FY02) Department of Defense (DOD) Breast Cancer Research Program (BCRP) have just been completed. The office of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) received $150 million (M) from Congress in FY02 to fund peer reviewed breast cancer research. Of the 1,883 proposals received in response to the February 21, 2002 and March 13, 2002 Program Announcements, 308 were recommended for funding.

One of the award mechanisms for FY02 is the Breast Cancer Center of Excellence Award. This award brings together highly qualified investigators in a Center of Excellence environment to accelerate the solution of an overarching problem in breast cancer research. The Center Awards support the establishment of a multi-institution collaboration among scientists from diverse backgrounds with different areas of expertise to create a critical mass of talent focused on a well-defined scientific problem. Winners of the 2002 Center of Excellence Award received funding of $5 to $7 million for a period of up to 4 years.

Three investigators have received FY02 Breast Cancer Center of Excellence Awards: Ercole L. Cavalieri, Laura J. Esserman, and Peter G. Shields.

Ercole L. Cavalieri, D.Sc. is Director of the Center for Environmental Toxicology at the University of Nebraska, and is a Professor at the Eppley Institute. Dr. Cavalieri's research interests are the molecular mechanisms of tumor initiation by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and estrogens and the origin of human cancer at the molecular level. Dr. Cavalieri has a novel approach to cancer, and believes that estrogen may be the cause of many common forms of cancer, including breast, ovarian, colon, pancreatic and endometrial cancers, as well as non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, leukemia and melanoma. This Breast Cancer Center of Excellence grant titled "Estrogen-induced Depurination of DNA: A Novel Target for Breast Cancer Protection" will look for a way to prevent breast cancer, a disease that kills almost 40,000 American women each year. Dr. Cavalieri received over $5.6 million for this Center of Excellence award.

Laura J. Esserman, M.D. is Associate Professor, Surgery and Radiology, University of California San Francisco (UCSF), and Director, Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center, UCSF/Mount Zion Medical Center. She is also a member of the UCSF Program in Biological and Medical Informatics. Dr. Esserman believes collaboration is the key to the care of patients at the Buck Breast Care Center. The center offers one-stop, multidisciplinary patient care. This is achieved using information technology to provide information, evaluate risks, and identify trade-offs to help patients make informed choices. Dr. Esserman received the $6.9 million Department of Defense Breast Cancer Center of Excellence Award for her proposal titled, " A Blueprint for Regional Excellence in Breast Cancer Care," to develop the technological infrastructure to achieve her vision for the next generation information system to improve clinical care.

Peter G. Shields, M.D. is a Professor in the Departments of Oncology and Medicine at Georgetown University Medical Center, Lombardi Cancer Center and is Director of the Cancer Genetics and Epidemiology Program. He is also the Associate Director for Population Sciences and Cancer Control. He has published extensively in the field of molecular epidemiology and genetic risk factors for breast and lung cancers. This $7 million grant from the Department of Defense for the Breast Cancer Center of Excellence Award is titled, "Molecular Epidemiology and Mechanisms for Breast Carcinogenesis: Alcohol Drinking as a Paradigm."

To read more about these awards and all of the other CDMRP breast cancer awards, please visit our web site under the Breast Cancer Research Program tab at

Point of Contact: Gail Whitehead,, 301-619-7783