Concerned Women of the Grove Gives $200,000 to Start Breast Cancer Innovation Fund

Research ideas like immunotherapy for early stage breast cancer treatment and novel PET tracer development for breast cancer imaging are driving a groundbreaking idea at the Stony Brook Cancer Center: Prevention is the cure.

Each of these innovative studies use a Stony Brook-developed MRI technique to examine breast tissue and determine quickly and safely if a novel therapy may be effective at preventing breast cancer development. The use of such sensitive MRI equipment allows researchers and doctors to test pioneering interventions quickly so they can offer them to patients as a standard of care moving forward.

Such innovation, however, wouldn’t be possible without the continuous philanthropic support of local leaders and advocacy groups like The Concerned Women of the Grove (CWOG). As Long Island ranks well above the national average and among one of the highest local rates in the world when it comes to new diagnoses of breast cancer, CWOG’s new leadership board “The Next Generation” has pledged to donate $200,000 to start the Concerned Women of the Grove Breast Cancer Innovation Fund.

The gift acts as a boon to cancer researchers who can further develop or create the next step in the fight against breast cancer. When faculty researchers might otherwise remain conceptually conservative in proposals, the Innovation Fund will instead encourage submissions that have the potential for groundbreaking discovery.

“We’re revolutionizing innovations in breast cancer biology,” said Yusuf Hannun, MD, director of the Stony Brook Cancer Center and Joel Strum Kenny Professor in Cancer Research. “Support from The Concerned Women of the Grove will allow us to fundamentally change the landscape of breast cancer research for patients in our immediate neighborhood, our Long Island community and far beyond.”

The Innovation Fund will also be used for molecular analysis of breast tissue to future understand breast cancer development while also supplying world-class facilities with the latest scientific equipment and technologies to further advance and understand breast cancer science, treatment and patient care.

Dexter Bailey Jr., senior vice president for University Advancement, noted the importance of community partnerships when it comes to university research and innovation. “Philanthropic support empowers Stony Brook researchers to pursue high risk, high reward initiatives with unbound potential,” he said. “The Concerned Women of the Grove enable lifesaving studies in the field of breast cancer research.”

Thanks to the group’s annual Signature Summer Fundraiser held in Cherry Grove — which has raised $800,000 over its lifetime — the CWOG has donated $250,000 over 21 years to the Cancer Center to expand community outreach, awareness and accelerate efforts to advance breast cancer detection, diagnosis, prevention, treatment and survivorship.

“In one way or another, we’ve all been touched by breast cancer,” said JoAnn Orfanos, CWOG vice president. “Women and men alike have a vested interest in doing whatever we can to eliminate this disease. We each have a reason to advocate for a cure.”

In recognition of their support, the Concerned Women of the Grove will be included on the inaugural Medical and Research Translation (MART) Donor wall.

To date, more than 43,000 donors have contributed over $541.5 million toward The Campaign for Stony Brook’s $600 million goal. The impact of their giving is seen on campus and around the world every day. Affect change in the field you’re interested in and make your contribution today.

Jordan Chapman