GW Receives $275,000 in Grants from the Avon Foundation

11th Annual Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Washington, D.C. Raises $4.5 Million
The Avon Foundation presented grants to Patricia Berg, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry and molecular medicine, and Mandi Pratt-Chapman, M.A., associate director of GW Cancer Institute Community Programs

The Avon Foundation presented grants to Patricia Berg, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry and molecular medicine, and Mandi Pratt-Chapman, M.A., associate director of GW Cancer Institute Community Programs

May 7, 2013

WASHINGTON (May 7, 2013) –The Avon Foundation announced $275,000 in grants to The George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) and GW Cancer Institute (GWCI), at the close of the 11th annual Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Washington, D.C.

Carol Kurzig, president of the Avon Foundation for Women, announced during the closing ceremony a total of $2.26 million in grants to ten local organizations, ensuring the funds raised immediately benefit the community. “These grants represent only a portion of the funding that the Avon Foundation will distribute in the D.C. area and across the country this year, but we want to make sure that the impact of this Walk begins today,” said Kurzig. GW received two out of the ten grants.

First, the Avon Foundation presented researcher Patricia Berg, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry and molecular medicine, with a check for $150,000 to assist with research on the early detection of breast cancer.  Berg is studying a gene she discovered and cloned.  She has shown that this gene, called BP1, is activated or turned on in 80 percent of women with breast cancer.  Berg also discovered that the presence of BP1 protein increases as breast cancer progresses from normal tissue to aggressive breast cancer.  BP1 is associated with increased cell growth, resistance to drugs and with metastasis.  Moreover, BP1 protein can control other genes, including several oncogenes known to cause breast cancer. The Avon grant will allow her to develop very sensitive assays for the detection of BP1 protein that may be important in the early diagnosis of breast cancer as well as in predicting how aggressive a tumor will be based on BP1 protein, thus allowing a physician to make decisions on the treatment to be used on individual patients.

A $125,000 check was also presented to Mandi Pratt-Chapman, M.A., associate director of GWCI Community Programs, to support the GWCI’s Avon Patient Navigator in helping the District’s most vulnerable women receive treatment and care. The grant was presented by the Avon Safety Net Hospital Program and will enable GWCI to help guide 600 women with adverse mammograms to diagnosis and support 180 diagnosed women across the cancer care continuum in the year ahead, thus removing 900 barriers to care experienced by breast cancer patients. The grant will help support process improvements to elevate quality in the delivery of breast cancer care at GW. GWCI has already developed an educational module to help educate community health centers on appropriate Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes and referral processes to make the diagnostic experience of patients smoother. This grant will help GWCI reach additional community health centers, as well as improve tracking of women to decrease loss of follow-up, develop a barriers-to-care screening tool to help optimize patient time with their physician, and share the tool through its national Center for the Advancement of Cancer Survivorship, Navigation and Policy.

"We are so pleased that the Avon Foundation recognizes our lifesaving work in patient navigation," said Pratt-Chapman, a principal investigator (PI) for this grant. "Without Avon's support and the leadership of co-PI Dr. Rachel Brem, the director of the GW Breast Imaging and Intervention Center, this work would simply not be possible."

The Avon Walk Washington, D.C. attracted 2,000 participants from 40 states and Washington, D.C., hailing from the United States of America, Cayman Islands and the United Kingdom. Additionally, 290 breast cancer survivors and 302 men joined together to raise life-saving funds and awareness for breast cancer.

To find out about additional grants and support given to local organizations at the Avon Walk in Washington, D.C., please visit http://www.avonwalk.org/press/11th-annual-avon-walk-for-breast-cancer-washington-d-c-raises-xx-million.html.

To interview a grant recipient, please contact Lisa Anderson at lisama2@gwu.edu or 202-994-3121.

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About the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences

Founded in 1825, the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) was the first medical school in the nation’s capital and is the 11th oldest in the country. Working together in our nation’s capital, with integrity and resolve, the GW SMHS is committed to improving the health and well-being of our local, national and global communities. smhs.gwu.edu.

About the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Washington, D.C.

The Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Washington, D.C., the second of eight 2013 Avon Walks, began on Saturday, May 4 with an inspirational opening ceremony at the Washington Monument Grounds. Walkers began their journey of up to 26.2 miles on Saturday through the greater Washington, D.C. area, supported by an all-volunteer crew and cheered on by family, friends and supporters along the route. Participants spent the night at the Walk’s “Wellness Village“ at Meadowbrook Park, featuring pink two-person tents, hot showers, hot meals, entertainment, volunteer medical services, as well as leisure activities such as yoga and a spa zone with mini back and foot massages.

On Sunday, May 5 after completing the Avon Walk’s final 13.1 miles – for a total of up to 39.3 miles over the course of the weekend – participants joined family and friends to celebrate their achievement at a closing ceremony back at the Washington Monument Grounds. At the ceremony, the Avon Foundation awarded new grants to Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. breast cancer organizations to ensure the funds raised immediately benefit the community.

For more information on the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, visit www.avonwalk.org or call 888-541-WALK.  To learn more about the Avon Foundation for Women visit www.avonfoundation.org.

Registration is open for women and men to take part in the remaining 2013 Avon Walks in the following cities:  Boston (May 18-19), Chicago (June 1-2), Santa Barbara (September 7-8), San Francisco (September 28-29), New York City (October 19-20), and Charlotte (October 26-27).

For more information on the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer or to donate, visit www.avonwalk.org or call 888-541-WALK.  To learn more about the Avon Foundation for Women visit www.avonfoundation.org.