IU School of Medicine establishes research center focused on developing new breast cancer treatments

June 14, 2018

Indiana University School of Medicine has launched a new research center focused on dramatically improving therapies for some of the most difficult-to-treat types of breast cancer. The Vera Bradley Foundation Center for Breast Cancer Research recognizes the two decades of philanthropic support from the Indiana-based handbag maker and its charitable foundation.

“While we have made major strides in the treatment of breast cancer, far too many women still die from this disease, and others endure long-lasting side effects from treatments,” said Jay L. Hess, MD, PhD, MHSA, dean of IU School of Medicine. “With the establishment of this center, we are putting a big stake in the ground and redoubling our efforts to find solutions for these women.”

Hess announced the establishment of the center on June 4 at the 25th annual Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer Classic. The classic is the largest amateur women’s golf and tennis charity tournament in the country and is held each spring in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

“No one has done more to support breast cancer research in our state than the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer, and I cannot imagine a more fitting namesake for our center,” dean Hess added.

IU School of Medicine has launched a national search for the inaugural director of the center. The director will lead a team of approximately 30 highly skilled breast cancer researchers from throughout the university and recruit new talent to complement existing expertise.

To attract an innovative and world-class leader, the Vera Bradley Foundation is committing $2.5 million to establish a new endowed fund that will fuel the director’s vision. As part of For All: The Indiana University Bicentennial Campaign, Indiana University will match the gift. In addition, Hess is committing another $2.5 million in school resources.

This new gift brings Vera Bradley Foundation’s total commitment to breast cancer research at IU School of Medicine to $37.5 million.

“To say breast cancer cannot be cured is unacceptable,” said Patricia R. Miller, co-founder of Vera Bradley Inc. and an Indiana University alumna. “Therefore, with tenacity as one of Vera Bradley’s core principles, we have worked toward a cure for the last 25 years, and we will keep raising funds for research for as long as it takes. With the establishment of the Vera Bradley Foundation Center for Breast Cancer Research, I am confident we will be successful.”

While the center will conduct research related to all facets of breast cancer, it will be especially focused on triple negative breast cancer. Triple negative breast cancer tends to be more aggressive and spreads more rapidly than other forms of breast cancer, and it disproportionately affects younger women and black women. It also has a higher recurrence rate, and once it has returned, standard therapy is often ineffective.

Read more about the Vera Bradley Foundation Center for Breast Cancer Research and triple negative breast cancer on the IU School of Medicine Blogs Hub