Nearly every 30 minutes a woman in the United States is diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer (TNBC). The disease represents as many as 20 percent of all breast cancers, but unlike most others, it has no targeted therapies. As a result, TNBC is more aggressive, harder to treat and more likely to recur.
In 2016, the Indiana University School of Medicine, inaugural recipient of the IU Grand Challenges program, began a multimillion-dollar effort to find a cure for TNBC. The school is supporting its researchers with enhanced capabilities and tremendous resources. It has also established some powerful research collaborations, putting a premium on working together, thinking big, and transferring ideas into action.
IU recently opened the Vera Bradley Foundation Center for Breast Cancer Research on the medical school campus. IU School of Medicine physicians and researchers also work through the IU Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center, which participates in a multi-institutional information-sharing network to further expedite clinical studies.
Leaders of the IU Precision Health TNBC team recognize that to overcome such a disease, patients need to be at the center of every decision. Because TNBC disproportionately affects African Americans, Hispanics and younger women, the team partnered with two African American community groups. Together they are developing educational materials about TNBC and encouraging female African American patients to participate in TNBC clinical studies.
This kind of patient involvement reflects the broader attitude at the IU School of Medicine. Through social media and community outreach, the school has a high recruitment rate for its TNBC clinical trials. This innovative thinking has helped reduce by half a clinical trial's four-year accrual timeline. It also provides researchers with data, annotated TNBC tissue, and patient derived models to accelerate their work from the laboratory to the clinic.
To move forward with its plans to cure TNBC, Indiana University and the IU School of Medicine are looking for a director for the Vera Bradley Foundation Center for Breast Cancer Research and a director of cancer informatics and data sciences. As part of the IU Precision Health TNBC team, researchers would transform biomedical research, create health care innovations and deliver interventions to cancer patients in Indiana and around the world.
To join our team visit precisionhealth.iu.edu/careers