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Baldwin Fund awards grants

Baldwin Fund of CNY supports breast cancer research projects

The Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund of CNY Inc. is supporting two breast cancer research studies at Upstate Medical University this year.

Over nearly two decades, the Baldwin Fund has awarded researchers more than $3 million to further their studies into the cause of breast cancer. In addition to the grants, the Baldwin Fund sponsors two annual endowed lectureships focused on breast cancer developments. The Baldwin family dedicates their research grants in dedication of women who have been affected by the disease.

“The Baldwin Fund has made it its mission to support research initiatives that can bring us closer to a cure for breast cancer,” said Beth Baldwin, whose mother, Carol, is a breast cancer survivor, founded the Fund. “We are able to support Upstate’s breast cancer research program, because of the generous financial commitment many across Central New York make to ensure that no more lives are lost to breast cancer.”

The Baldwin grants have acted as “seed investments,” giving Upstate scientists and doctors the opportunity to show ideas that have promise for improving outcomes for those with breast cancer. Success at this level brings the possibility of applying for larger grants from the National Institutes of Health, the New York State Department of Health and other national and international funders. To date, Baldwin support for cancer research at Upstate has spurred nearly $24 million in additional grant funding. That’s a return on investment of more than 600 percent. 

Studies receiving funds this year are:

A novel miRNA-based breast cancer screening approach.

Principal Investigator is Lisa Lai, MD, assistant professor of surgery and a member of the Upstate Cancer Center’s Breast Cancer Team, and Cornell University researchers.

Measuring the levels of these miRNAs in human biofluids, either as risk factors when highly/exclusively expressed in mammals with high mammary cancer incidence or as protective factors when highly/exclusively expressed in mammals with low mammary cancer incidence, could be employed to identify individuals at high or low risk to develop BC. This project seeks to discover whether these micro RNA particles are found in human biofluids and if so develop a low cost point of care test to identify them. Defining the risk level of women would be very useful in their clinical care.

Metabolic reprogramming of host immunity in breast cancer

Principal Investigator is Brittany Simone, DO, assistant professor of radiation oncology.

Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is an aggressive subtype of breast cancer which often presents as locally advanced or metastatic. Calorie restriction (CR) can be used to increase cell immunosurveillance in the setting of local RT, which may increase recruitment of cytotoxic tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs). An increase in TILs could translate to improved response to anti-PD-L1 therapy..The low toxicity strategies of local RT and CR make these desirable adjuncts. The long-term goal of our lab is to develop strategies that will enhance response to immunotherapy [IT] in breast cancer to affect overall survival.

The research support from the Baldwin fund is made in memory of Kimberley R. Robey, Courtnie Walker and Kristen Bell.