Women on a Mission to Cure Breast Cancer

MANHASSET, NY – The Manhasset Women’s Coalition Against Breast Cancer (MWCABC) on Friday presented a $90,000 check to Feinstein Institute for Medical Research investigators Iuliana Shapira, MD, and Annette Lee, PhD. The money will go directly to the Breast and Ovarian Specimen Bank, a joint research endeavor of the Feinstein Institute and North Shore-LIJ Cancer Institute. Drs. Shapira and Lee established the specimen bank in 2010 to serve as a vital resource for discovering and validating new biomarkers for the early detection of breast and/or ovarian cancer, as well as predicting the disease course and outcomes, treatment response and risk of relapse.

“The generosity of this gift is surpassed only by the love and caring of the thoughtful and foresighted women of the Manhasset Coalition who bestowed it upon us,” said Dr. Shapira, MD, a Feinstein investigator who also serves as director of the Cancer Genetics Program at the North Shore-LIJ Cancer Institute.

“With the strong and continued support of important women’s groups like the MWCABC, we have the ability to continue our investigations and seek further breakthroughs on the road to curing cancer,” said Dr. Lee, a Feinstein geneticist. “We plan to make these amazing women not only proud, but part of our continuing scientific endeavors.”

“The Manhasset Women’s Coalition has been a tremendous force in our community,” said Kevin Dwyer, senior vice president and chief development officer at North Shore-LIJ.  “We are absolutely thrilled to have the Coalition on our side as we take ambitious steps forward with our nationally renowned Cancer Institute.”

The two investigators initially teamed up to conduct a first-of-its-kind study dedicated to improving the survival rates of women diagnosed with breast and ovarian cancer. The MWCABC funding will go to support their investigation of Plasma microRNAs as biomarkers for predicting the benefit of surgery and adjuvant or neoadjuvant chemotherapy to treat breast cancer. Preliminary studies from the laboratory suggest that micro RNA, a genetic marker embedded in deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), indicates whether an ovarian tumor is benign or malignant, and whether the patient will benefit from chemotherapy after the surgical removal of the tumor.  Earlier this year, they were awarded the Alison Conyngham –Neisloss Collaborative Women in Science Award, given by the Feinstein Institute’s Advancing Women in Science and Medicine (AWSM) organization.

Since their initial project received Institutional Review Board approval in November of 2010, more than 350 women have been enrolled in the breast ovarian cancer tissue bank.  Recent published findings identified four main subtypes of breast cancer, one of which has distinct similarities to ovarian cancer. This makes their research efforts to simultaneously study both breast and ovarian cancer even more important in breast cancer research.

The Manhasset Women’s Coalition Against Breast Cancer (MWCABC) is an all-volunteer, non-profit charitable organization founded in 1997 to unite the women of Manhasset, Long Island in the fight against breast cancer. MWCABC has been supporting North Shore-LIJ since 2004, providing over $300,000 in philanthropic support for North Shore-LIJ’s breast cancer research and supportive care programs, in addition to palliative care.   The $90,000 gift is the Coalition’s largest gift to date.  This gift includes $10,000 contributed by the Junior Coalition of MWCABC, high-school aged members who run their own fund raising efforts for financial support of North Shore-LIJ programs, as well as share holiday treats each year with families on the North Shore University Hospital Palliative Care Unit.  The MWCABC is also a significant referral source within the Long Island community, with strong efforts in this area by board member Dorothy Forte, who plays a key role in the Coalition’s ongoing activities.

About The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research

Headquartered in Manhasset, NY, The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research is home to international scientific leaders in many areas including Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, psychiatric disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, sepsis, human genetics, pulmonary hypertension, leukemia, neuroimmunology, and medicinal chemistry. The Feinstein Institute, part of the North Shore-LIJ Health System, ranks in the top 5th percentile of all National Institutes of Health grants awarded to research centers. For more information visit www.feinsteininstitute.org

About North Shore-LIJ Cancer Institute

The North Shore-LIJ Cancer Institute offers inpatient services at North Shore University Hospital (NSUH), LIJ Medical Center, Cohen Children’s Medical Center, Glen Cove, Huntington, Southside, Lenox Hill, Staten Island University, Plainview, Forest Hills and Franklin hospitals. Outpatient services are available at the Monter Cancer Center in Lake Success, NY, LIJ Medical Center, Cohen Children’s Medical Center, Glen Cove, Lenox Hill and Staten Island University hospitals, and physician offices throughout Queens, Long Island, Staten Island and Manhattan. With approximately 150 physicians, the Cancer Institute is comprised of 12 centers of excellence focused on: brain tumors, breast cancer, cancer genetics, gastrointestinal oncology, gynecologic oncology, head and neck oncology, hematologic oncology, lung cancer, melanoma and rare skin cancer, supportive oncology and pain management, pediatric hematology/oncology, and prostate and genitourinary cancer. The Cancer Institute and its physicians are involved in more than 175 cancer clinical trials and have accumulated 30 years of experience in National Cancer Institute-sponsored clinical research.

Media Contact:
Elaine Wohl
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Phone: (516) 465-2615
Email: ewohl@northwell.edu