Colorado Researcher Receives Komen® Grant to Study Breast Cancer


 Komen Announces $31 Million in Funding for 98 New Breast Cancer Research Grants, With Focus on Aggressive and Metastatic Cancers 

DENVER – September 26, 2017 – A researcher at the Center for Women’s Health Research at the University of Colorado School of Medicine at Anschutz Medical Campus will receive a grant from Dallas-based Susan G. Komen to support her research focusing on obesity and breast cancer. The grant is one of 98 Susan G. Komen research grants awarded this year totaling $30 million.

Elizabeth Wellberg, Ph.D., a junior faculty researcher at the University of Colorado, will receive $450,000 to support her research on the link between obesity and breast cancer. Wellberg studies how obesity, metabolic syndrome, and weight gain affect breast cancer risk and progression, and also how breast cancer treatments, in turn, influence weight gain and metabolism.

Wellberg will determine whether the “vicious cycle” surrounding obesity, weight gain, and breast cancer can increase the risk for relapse. The study could provide a better understanding of how obesity and weight gain interact to drive breast cancer progression and therapy resistance.

“We are so thankful for the friends, family, researchers, and health care providers that fight alongside us, helping to reduce the number of breast cancer deaths in Colorado, both on the ground and through research,” said Dianne Primavera, Susan G. Komen Colorado CEO.

Komen Investments in Colorado

 Since 1982, Komen has invested more than $9.3 million in research grants in Colorado. Komen’s research program is funded in part by contributions from its network of affiliates, which directs 25 percent of locally-raised funds, including from signature Race for the Cure events, to Komen’s global research program.

The remaining funds are invested into local community programs that serve medically underserved women and men in need of breast cancer care in communities with local affiliates. Since 1992, Komen Colorado has invested nearly $42.7 million in 126 Colorado-based non-profit organizations to provide breast cancer care and support in 22 counties, while contributing nearly $15.6 million to Komen research.

 The 2017 Komen research grants will be awarded to institutions in 27 states and 7 countries. The research will focus on new screening technologies, treatments for metastatic and aggressive breast cancers, and disparities in breast cancer outcomes.

“We are focused on new treatments, ways to overcome drug resistance in breast cancer patients, and a better understanding of how and why breast cancer spreads, so that we can better treat metastatic breast cancer or prevent it all together,” said Ellen Willmott, interim president and CEO of Susan G. Komen. “This focus on aggressive and metastatic disease is the foundation of our Bold Goal to reduce U.S. breast cancer deaths by 50 percent by 2026.”

Metastatic breast cancer – which is breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body like the brain, liver, bones or lungs – is responsible for almost all of the nation’s 40,000 annual breast cancer deaths. More than 154,000 women are living with metastatic disease in the U.S. today. By targeting metastatic disease, Komen hopes to dramatically reduce breast cancer deaths in the U.S.

 This year’s funding also includes $17.6 million to early-career investigators. “Funding for early-career researchers ensures a continuum of breast cancer research, across generations, which is critical in a time of tightening federal research dollars,” Willmott said.

Komen’s 2017 portfolio includes*:

  • 37 grants expanding our knowledge of metastatic breast cancer and how to better treat it or prevent it;
  • 37 grants looking into novel treatments for aggressive types of breast cancer (specifically, triple negative, inflammatory breast cancer luminal B, and ER-positive recurrent breast cancer).
  • 59 grants focused on new therapies, including 10 for targeted therapies and 20 for drug development
  • 24 investigating drug resistance (why drugs stop working in some patients)
  • 9 on disparities in breast cancer outcomes and 2 involving Big Data

*Eds Note: Numbers may add to more than 98 because individual studies may be classed in more than one category.

About Susan G. Komen Colorado®

Denver-based Susan G. Komen® Colorado has invested nearly than $42.7 million into 126 Colorado-based non-profit health clinics, hospitals and community-based organizations to provide life-saving breast cancer care to those in need in 22 counties (Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Clear Creek, Denver, Douglas, Eagle, Garfield, Gilpin, Jefferson, Larimer, Logan, Morgan, Park, Phillips, Pitkin, Sedgwick, Summit, Washington, Weld, and Yuma). Komen Colorado’s local investments have provided Coloradans with more than:

  • 39,537 clinical breast exams;
  • 54,759 mammograms; and
  • 27,523 diagnostic tests that diagnosed more than 650 breast cancers; and
  • 2,122 treatment services (surgery, chemotherapy, radiation).

In addition, the organization has raised nearly $15.6 million for ground-breaking research to understand risk-factors for the disease, treatment protocols, how the disease metastasizes, and evidence-based interventions to increase survivorship. Learn more at

About Susan G. Komen®
Susan G. Komen is the world’s largest breast cancer organization outside of the federal government, funding more breast cancer research than any other nonprofit while providing real-time help to those facing the disease. Since its founding in 1982, Komen has funded more than $956 million in research and provided more than $2.1 billion in funding to screening, education, treatment and psychosocial support programs. Komen has worked in more than 60 countries worldwide. Komen was founded by Nancy G. Brinker, who promised her sister, Susan G. Komen, that she would end the disease that claimed Suzy’s life. Visit or call 1-877 GO KOMEN. Connect with us on social at

Grants are contingent upon signed and executed contracts with Komen