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TAU’s Prof. Ilan Tsarfaty Awarded Breast Cancer Research Foundation Grant
Thursday, December 05, 2019 9:00:00 AM

BCRF granted $66 million in funding to 275 scientists at institutions worldwide in 2019

Prof. Ilan Tsarfaty of Tel Aviv University's Sackler Faculty of Medicine has been awarded a Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) grant for his groundbreaking research in identifying novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer.

Prof. Tsarfaty is the first cancer researcher to show that the MET gene is a prognostic factor for breast cancer patients. He has been investigating how the gene promotes metastasis of breast cancer and resistance to therapy, which may lead to the identification of biomarkers of response to therapy and new approaches to preventing the spread of cancer.

The BCRF provided $66 million this year in the form of an annual grant to support the work of nearly 275 scientists at leading academic and medical institutions around the world. BCRF-funded research spans the entire spectrum of cancer — from the basic biology of a cancer cell to the development of innovative treatments and an improved quality of life.

"While deaths from breast cancer have decreased by 40% — a clear result of research — it remains the leading cause of cancer deaths in women worldwide," said Myra J. Biblowit, President and CEO of BCRF. "The necessity and opportunity to eradicate and prevent the disease altogether have never been more urgent. Our investigators are mining every avenue of breast cancer research from the lab to the bedside. They are united in their shared passion to achieve the best outcome for patients."

With the help of 16 BCRF grants, Prof. Tsarfaty and his team have over the years identified several genes that modify the ability of MET to promote breast cancer initiation and progression, defined several metastasis-promoting programs activated by MET, and discovered that MET expression is found at high levels in some tumors from patients with estrogen receptor-positive and triple-negative breast cancers.

"The BCRF grant is very important for my lab," says Prof. Tsarfaty. "It supports our high-risk basic science research to better understand breast cancer development and find new ways for precision medicine, especially for metastatic patients.

"In the past several years, we have devised relevant and novel models to explain why certain women develop breast cancer and why their disease progresses so rapidly," Prof. Tsarfaty continues. "We are now engaged in a new project to understand the role of the BRCA1 gene in breast cancer."

Prof. Tsarfaty received his BSc, MSc and PhD from TAU, joining its Department of Clinical Microbiology and Immunology at the Sackler School of Medicine in 1994. He is the author of over 50 scientific research articles and more than 10 book chapters.

90% of donations to the BCRF, a non-profit organization, go towards research. The BCRF has been rated A by and has been a leader in breast cancer research since its founding in 1993.

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