JHMI Office of Communications and Public Affairs

March 28, 2001
MEDIA CONTACT : Vanessa Wasta
PHONE: (410)955-1287
E-MAIL: wastava@jhmi.edu

Hopkins Targets Breast Cancer Research to Aid Minorities and the Poor with $2.2 Million Gift from Avon Products Foundation

The Johns Hopkins Oncology Center received a major boost to its arsenal in the fight against breast cancer with a gift award of $2.2 million from the Avon Products Foundation, from funds raised by the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade. Hopkins scientists and clinicians will direct many of their studies to aid poor women and African-American women who have disproportionately high rates of breast cancer morbidity.

This gift to Hopkins is part of a $16.2 million total that Avon has awarded to breast cancer programs at Harvard Comprehensive Cancer Center/Massachusetts General Hospital; University of California at San Francisco Clinical Cancer Center; Northwestern University/Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center (Chicago, IL); University of Alabama at Birmingham Comprehensive Cancer Center; University of California at Irvine Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center; Cancer Care, Inc. (New York, NY); Boston Medical Center; Olive View and the Iris Cantor Center for Breast Imaging at UCLA Medical Center (Los Angeles, CA); Howard University Cancer Center (Washington, DC); and, Food & Friends (Washington, DC).

The gift to Hopkins will support several novel approaches to managing breast cancer from molecular genetic biomarkers to behavioral aspects of women in following screening recommendations.

"This gift from the Avon Products Foundation will provide vital support, helping us to expand upon breakthroughs in the biological causes of breast cancer, genetic markers useful in detection and new therapies. But, equally important is the opportunity it gives us to develop new programs that reach out to underserved populations suffering disproportionately from this disease," says Nancy Davidson, M.D., the Johns Hopkins Breast Cancer Research Professor and Director of the Johns Hopkins Oncology Center breast cancer program. Other participants in the Avon Products Foundation supported studies include Kathy Helzlsouer, M.D., Sara Sukumar, Ph.D., Deborah Armstrong, M.D., Allan Hess, Ph.D., Ann Klassen, Ph.D., and Dmitri Artemov, Ph.D.

Research programs at Hopkins that Avon is supporting include:

Promising Methods of Early Detection

Researchers will develop a serum bank, collecting blood samples and demographic data from economically disadvantaged women and women at high risk for breast cancer. Samples contained in the bank will someday be used to identify epidemiological factors and molecular genetic screening markers useful in breast cancer detection and diagnosis.

Developing Health Messages for Older Women

Behavioral scientists will explore factors that entice or dissuade women from receiving mammograms. The focus will be on older women and African-American women with the intent of tailoring public messages that would enhance their participation in regular, recommended screening techniques.

Cancer and imaging scientists will collaborate to study drug delivery to breast tumors in preclinical models. A promising new drug known as phenylbutytrate will be examined in the treatment of breast cancer to determine how well it penetrates breast tumor tissues and to examine its effectiveness in advanced breast cancer.

The Oncology Center was recognized by Avon Products Foundation because of its renowned breast cancer program. It is one of only a select few in the nation to receive a National Cancer Institute breast cancer SPORE (Specialized Programs of Research Excellence) grant to rapidly move research findings from the laboratory to the bedside.

"Gifts awarded from the Avon Products Foundation target vital areas of early detection, treatment and services that are inaccessible to so many women, including groundbreaking new therapies emerging from discoveries in molecular biology," said Ms. Jung. "As we help fund the search for prevention and a cure, we are also committed to supporting outreach, screening and treatment. The comprehensive funding strategy that we have put in place addresses many breast health concerns, with a particular focus on women who face barriers due to lack of economic means or insurance."

The Avon Breast Cancer Crusade was founded in 1993 in the U.S. by Avon Products, Inc. The Avon Crusade mission is to fund medical research into the possible prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure of breast cancer, and to provide women, particularly those who are medically underserved, with access to breast cancer education, early detection screening services, clinical care, financial assistance and support services.

The Avon Breast Cancer Crusade generates funds through two initiatives. Since 1993, funds have been raised through special Avon Crusade "pink ribbon" fundraising products (including a pen, pin, scented candle and new stuffed bear) sold by 550,000 Avon independent sales representatives nationwide. In 1998, the Avon Breast Cancer 3-Days were launched, a national series of three-day, 60 mile fundraising walks, each with some 4,000 participants, created and produced by Pallotta TeamWorks.

The Avon Products Foundation also awarded gifts in March and October 2000 to The Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center of the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center (New York, NY) and The Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University and Grady Memorial Hospital (Atlanta, GA).

Related Web Sites:

Johns Hopkins Oncology Center: www.hopkinskimmelcancercenter.org

Avon Breast Cancer Crusade: www.avoncrusade.com


Avon Products, Inc. is committed to being the company for women, and in support of this mission, the Avon Products Foundation is responding to the needs of women and their families by funding the fight against the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women worldwide: breast cancer. This is accomplished through a unique initiative called the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade, which to date has raised nearly $110 million net in the U.S. to fund access to care and finding a cure for breast cancer.

The goal of the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade is to benefit all women through research, clinical care and support services, but there is special emphasis on reaching medically underserved women, including low-income, elderly, minority or those without adequate health insurance, and reversing historical disparities in breast cancer care.

Unlike any other corporate supporter of the breast cancer cause, Avon has implemented a sophisticated and comprehensive need-based philanthropic strategy that addresses every facet of the disease. Recognizing the complexity of the problem of breast cancer among all groups of women, Avon is distinguishing itself from other corporate donors that fund a single institution or scientific investigator by supporting a virtual national network of research, medical, social service and community-based organizations, each of which is making a unique contribution to helping patients or advancing breast cancer research.

· Through the Avon Breast Care Fund, an arm of the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade, the Avon Crusade supports community-based organizations that are particularly effective in reaching women who face barriers to obtaining any form of health care. Grants from the Avon Fund enable these organizations to conduct community outreach to identify women who need assistance; education on the importance of early detection; and assistance with the process of obtaining screening and needed follow up care. These programs especially target the uninsured, low-income, elderly and disabled women, minorities and those for whom English is not the primary language, and women who have competing survival priorities as a result of living in poverty.

· Understanding the enormous challenge of reversing historic health disparities for the underserved, the Avon Crusade goes far beyond simple "check writing" philanthropy. Avon provides an expert Coordinating Center to provide help and technical assistance for the personnel at the funded community-based programs, and sponsors educational and training conferences. As a result, the program personnel learn effective education and case management techniques, data collection and program evaluation, and up-to-date breast cancer medical facts, as well as processes to obtain additional funding from other sources to sustain their programs. A website is also maintained for these programs so they can communicate with each other and the Coordinating Center.

· More than 500 community-based organizations in 46 states and the District of Columbia have been funded since the inception of the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade in 1993.

· This year, the Avon Crusade needs-based approach will extend to the training of radiologists in the sub-specialty of breast imaging. A crisis is emerging as fewer radiologists enter this vital field due to factors such as low reimbursement rates and high rates for liability insurance, which have created a disincentive for physicians to become expert in breast imaging. Until these public policy challenges are resolved, it is important that fellowship support such as the Avon Crusade funding be provided to continue training in the sub-specialty.

· Despite the availability of low or no-cost mammograms, few resources exist for medically underserved women with a breast abnormality that requires further clinical care. To assist women facing this problem, the Avon Crusade funds a financial assistance and support service program established by Cancer Care, Inc., called "The AVONCares Program for Medically Underserved Women". This program provides funds directly to a woman or her health care provider for diagnostic care (e.g., biopsies), and also provides funds to the woman for services such as transportation, child or elder care during treatment. Information on managing breast cancer treatment, the provision of wigs and prosthesis, and psycho-social support is also provided by qualified social workers.

The Avon Crusade provides funding for a broad spectrum of breast cancer research at leading cancer centers nationwide. This funding encourages a "team" or institution-wide approach among the faculty at every center and is targeted to areas not adequately funded through federal funding mechanisms or other sources. The funding priorities include:

· Support for young investigators, to encourage them to explore new ideas and obtain critical pilot data.

· Salary support for physician-scientists (M.D., Ph.D), who face challenges pursuing research with the demands of providing clinical care in the current environment.

· Career development for women physicians and scientists who are conducting breast cancer research.

· Salary support for minority investigators who experience historical obstacles to funding.

· Identification of novel targets and agents for breast cancer prevention and therapy.

· New imaging and molecular methods to detect breast cancer early.

· Support for stellar cancer researchers whose primary research in cancer pertains to other organ sites, to encourage them to spend a portion of their time and talent on breast cancer as well.

· Studies to examine the differences in breast cancer incidence and mortality between various groups of women, including African-American, Hispanic and Caucasian women. Studies will examine biological, behavioral, cultural, economic and health service system variables.

· Infrastructure, training and personnel to bring emerging new technologies, including functional genomics, to low-income women who would otherwise not receive the benefits of the progress in molecular biology.

Every cancer center funded must devote a portion of their gift to providing state-of-the-art care to medically underserved women in their geographic region. All centers work together on the challenges associated with reversing health disparities via conferences and meetings sponsored by the Avon Products Foundation.

As of March 2001, the gifts made by the Avon Products Foundation will support more than 175 investigators dedicated to breast cancer.

Since it was launched in 1993, the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade has generated nearly $110 million net for the fight against breast cancer – more than any company worldwide. Millions more will be raised throughout 2001, with funds disbursed in March and October of this year.

Funds are generated by the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade through two initiatives. Since 1993, funds have been raised through special Avon Crusade "pink ribbon" fundraising products (currently including a pen, pin, scented candle and new bear) sold by 550,000 Avon independent sales representatives nationwide. In 1998, the Avon Breast Cancer 3-Days were launched, a national series of three-day, 60 mile fundraising walks, created and produced by Pallotta TeamWorks, each with some 4,000 participants.

Avon Worldwide Fund for Women’s Health

The Avon Breast Cancer Crusade in the U.S. is the largest program of the Avon Worldwide Fund for Women’s Health, launched in 1992 to support programs for breast cancer and other vital women’s health issues. Now supporting programs in 30 countries, the Avon Worldwide Fund has generated some $140 million to help break barriers to women’s health in countries as diverse as Poland, Argentina, Malaysia, Mexico and the Philippines. Under the leadership of Chief Executive Officer Andrea Jung, Avon has pledged to reach $250 million by the end of 2002, increasing by $50 million the company’s goal set in October 2000.

Contacts: Tracey Warshaw / Susan Arnot Heaney Julie Horn

Avon Products, Inc. Dan Klores Communications

212-282-5664 / 5668 212-981-5221

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