Wayne State University

Wayne State researcher receives Komen funding for Graduate Training in Breast Cancer Disparities Research program

Michele Cote, Ph.D., M.P.H., member of the Population Studies and Disparities Research Program at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute and associate professor in the Department of Oncology at Wayne State University’s School of Medicine, has received a three-year, $404,997 Graduate Training in Disparities Research (GTDR) Grant from Susan G. Komen®. This is Cote’s second Komen grant.

Her co-principal investigator on the grant is Manohar Ratnam, Ph.D., member of the Molecular Therapeutics Program at Karmanos, professor in the Department of Oncology at WSU SOM, and faculty member of the WSU Cancer Biology Graduate Program. Other faculty members of the Cancer Biology graduate program will also serve as research mentors.

A component of the program also includes a Komen survivor advocate, who will help trainees recognize the impact of their work on women. Katrina Studvent, manager of Breast Cancer Special Programs at Karmanos and Komen Detroit Race co-chair, will serve as the Komen advocate.

Cote will lead a training program for exemplary Ph.D. students that will cross-train them in basic science and epidemiology. The program will recruit three students from the 2015-2016 academic year and a second set of three students in the third year of the program. Students will be recruited from Wayne State University, as well as from universities across Michigan and the United States.

“We are extremely excited to receive this Komen funding so that we can train student researchers to examine breast cancer and the reasons for differences in diagnosis and survival between women with the disease,” Cote said. “By providing a solid foundation consisting of cellular and molecular biology, epidemiology and laboratory research, our trainees will be uniquely prepared to carry out original investigations in contemporary breast cancer disparities research.”

Komen GDTR grants are intended to establish and sustain training programs for graduate students who are seeking careers dedicated to understanding and eliminating disparities in breast cancer. By providing this type of funding, Komen seeks to build a diverse pool of highly-trained scientists who will emerge as the next generation of leaders in the field of breast cancer research focused on reducing disparities.

“WSU has been highly successful recruiting students from various backgrounds, including underserved minority populations, and providing tailored mentoring to ensure they graduate from our program with the skills necessary to become highly sought-after scientists in academia and industry,” Cote said. “We expect that this program will attract ambitious, high-caliber students who will seek ways to reduce breast cancer incidence and mortality.”

Cote’s grant is one of more than 50 grants provided to early-career breast cancer researchers, accounting for almost half of Komen’s $34.7 million investment in new breast cancer research funding for 2014. The grants include more than $980,000 in new funding for research conducted in Michigan, bringing Komen’s total research investment in the state to $25.2 million since 1982.

Susan G. Komen’s research program is funded in part by contributions from local Komen affiliates across the country. Those affiliates annually contribute 25 percent of net funds raised locally to Komen’s research program with the remaining 75 percent funding breast cancer community outreach programs.

Karmanos Cancer Institute is the local presenting sponsor of the Susan G. Komen Detroit Race for the Cure, which has raised and invested nearly $27 million since the first Komen Detroit Race in 1992.

“We’re very proud that funds we’ve raised in metro Detroit are not only providing real-time help to our neighbors, but coming back to our universities and hospitals for research that can save lives,” said Maureen Keenan Meldrum, director of Breast Cancer Special Programs at Karmanos and leader of Komen operations in the tri-county area.

Registration is open for the May 16, 2015 Race at Chene Park:  http://www.karmanoscancer.org/KomenDetroit/Default.aspx

Community health programs funded by Komen Detroit can be found here:  http://www.karmanoscancer.org/KomenDetroit/SubPage.aspx?id=2147485363

A full list of Komen’s research grants can be found here:  http://ww5.komen.org/ResearchWorldMap.aspx