The V Foundation for Cancer Research, one of the nation’s leading funders of cancer research, is pleased to announce a new partnership with the San Francisco-based BRCA Foundation and the Gray Foundation to fund research of cancers that derive from BRCA or BRCA-like mutations. Each organization will provide a $1.5 million challenge to the V Foundation for BRCA Research Collaborative Grants. This research will advance the study of inherited mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2, genes that produce tumor suppressor proteins. Women and men born with a mutated copy of either BRCA1 or BRCA2 are at a significantly increased risk of developing cancer. With a successful match to the challenge, the combined investment for this cutting-edge research will be $6 million.
“Working together to beat BRCA cancer is at the heart of our mission. The partnership with the V Foundation and the Basser Initiative at the Gray Foundation creates a powerhouse that allows us to take the BRCA cancer research to the next level,” said Evan Goldberg, Founder of Oracle NetSuite and Chairman, President and Director of BRCA Foundation. “I look forward to joining forces to make our joint initiatives successful.”
A member of the V Foundation’s Board of Directors, Goldberg launched the BRCA Foundation in early 2016 to bring about new therapies, cures and preventative treatments for those carrying hereditary BRCA gene mutations. Goldberg, who was adopted shortly after birth, learned he carries the mutation after his birth mother contacted him following her positive genetic test and second bout of breast cancer. His adoptive and biological parents are both of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, one of the ethnic and geographic groups with a much higher prevalence of harmful BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations.
“Research focused on the BRCA1 and 2 genes encompasses cutting-edge aspects of clinical, translational and basic research, including germline and tumor genetic testing, new approaches to early detection and prevention, circulating tumor DNA, novel therapeutics targeting DNA repair and many others,” said James M. Ford, M.D., member of the V Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Committee and Professor of Medicine/Oncology and Genetics at the Stanford School of Medicine. “This challenge gift will fund substantial and exciting new approaches to helping carriers of these cancer susceptibility genes, as well as many other cancer patients.”
Initial studies focused on breast and ovarian cancer, but research shows the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes function at multiple sites throughout the body. For example, there is a significant increased risk of pancreatic cancer, male breast cancer and prostate cancer, particularly in individuals with BRCA2 mutations. Patients with BRCA1 and BRCA2 alterations are also predisposed to developing cancer at a younger age than those without the mutations. Research has also found men with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations have higher rates of breast, prostate or pancreatic cancer.
“We are thrilled to be raising both awareness and new funding to support BRCA research,” said Mindy Gray, Co-Founder of the Gray Foundation. “Jon and I are excited to partner with the BRCA Foundation and the V Foundation to break down barriers, enhance collaborations and ultimately envision a world that gives better options to the generations of families who face the decisions that come with having a BRCA mutation.”
Mindy and Jon Gray established the Basser Center for BRCA at the University of Pennsylvania’s Abramson Cancer Center in 2012. The Basser Center was named in honor of Faith Basser, Mindy’s sister who died of ovarian cancer at the age of 44. It was the first center in the world dedicated to the treatment, prevention and cure of BRCA-related cancers. The Grays have given more than $30 million to the Basser Center and additionally fund research at a number of other leading cancer centers.
The V Foundation’s Wine Celebration, an annual signature fundraising event held in Napa Valley, California, will feature BRCA research at the 2017 event’s “Fund-A-Need,” ensuring no less than $6 million will be awarded to accelerate such research. A subset of the V Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Committee, along with world-renown experts, including Dr. Susan Domchek from the Basser Center for BRCA at the Abramson Cancer Center and Dr. Alan Ashworth from University of California San Francisco, will select grants for the best BRCA mutation projects at institutions nationwide.