Together as One: Lacing Up to Race for the Cure (4.30.22)

Komen NCTC race sneakers
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The 2022 Susan G. Komen Triangle Race for the Cure, presented by Duke Cancer Institute, is this Saturday, April 30. It's not too late to join Team DCI!

Team DCI is captained this year by DCI breast oncologist Vijay Paryani, MD, and Karen Johnson, MD, MS, Division Chief of Breast Imaging, Duke Department of Radiology.

At the time of writing, Team DCI was number one on the Top Companies' leaderboard — having already raised more than $4,500 in critically important funds for patient support and breast cancer research — with Caterpillar creeping up from behind.

This year's event will be held at Frontier RTP, Research Triangle Park (Map It View Important Parking Information)

The Race-Day program includes:

7:45 a.m. :: Timed 5K
8:30 a.m. :: Survivor/Thriver Celebration
9:00 a.m. :: Untimed Run/Walk
9:45 a.m. :: Post-Event Party
 
Add Event Date to Calendar    View Event Day Schedule
 
[Packet Pick Up: Friday, April 29, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (The Boxyard RTP) and Saturday, April 30 at 7 a.m. (The Boxyard RTP)]
 

Meet the Captains

Karen Johnson, MD, MS
Karen Johnson, MD, MS

“Race-Day is an atmosphere of achievement and celebration and those two emotions don’t always partner very readily with the words ‘breast cancer,’” says DCI breast radiologist and two-time team co-captain Karen Johnson, MD, who sees patients at Duke Cancer Center Durham. “So, for the women who have that diagnosis and all of the women who fear that diagnosis, Race-Day is very special. It shows us that there is a community of support and love and it brings us hope."

An associate professor of Medicine, Johnson's research interests include detecting and diagnosing early-stage breast cancer so women have the best chance possible to conquer the disease early.

Her latest publication is on the role of digital breast tomosynthesis in the evaluation of focal breast pain, an article for which she was the senior author.

“The appropriate and best use of breast MRI is of specific interest to me as well as finding ways to help women cope with and reduce the anxiety experienced in conjunction with mammography,” she said. "I have dedicated my life's work to helping women navigate the sometimes confusing pathway of medical care."

Johnson completed her fellowship in Breast Imaging at Duke in 2007 and has been a member of the faculty for more than 13 years.

Vijay Paryani, MD
Vijay Paryani, MD

Vijay Paryani, MD, is a breast medical oncologist who sees patients at Duke Women’s Cancer Care Raleigh and Duke Cancer Center Cary.

Paryani joined Duke in August 2020 directly after completing his fellowship at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. Like Johnson, this is his second year serving as a team co-captain. He’s all-in for the Triangle Race for the Cure and all-in for his patients.

“When my patients see me, they may be going through the scariest and most difficult time in their lives. My goal is always to do everything in my power to improve their physical and emotional well-being. My patients are family to me,” says Paryani, who's committed to bringing new clinical trial opportunities to DCI’s Wake County locations. “I have witnessed firsthand the devastating effect this disease can have on patients and their families.”

Not Just a Number

Breast cancer will affect one in eight women in the U.S. this year. According to the American Cancer Society, it's the most common cancer in women in the U.S. (except for skin cancers) — accounting for about 30% of all new female cancers each year — and it's the second leading cause of cancer death in women (after lung cancer) in the U.S. However, among Black women, breast cancer is now the leading cause of cancer death, eclipsing lung cancer.

According to the latest statistics from the American Cancer Society, an estimated 44,000 women will die from breast cancer this year.

The challenges of the past year two years didn’t stop breast cancer studies from moving forward. Research funding, no matter where it comes from, has a ripple effect, on the field and ultimately on patients. One grant begets the next. Promising science translates to clinical trials, which can translate to new therapies and/or new strategies to defeat breast cancer or at least hold it at bay.

Duke Cancer Institute scientists have, to date, benefited from more than $22 million in research grants from the Susan G. Komen Foundation. In September 2021, Komen awarded $1.5 million in grants, through the Komen Metastatic Breast Cancer Collaborative Research Initiative, to boost evidence-based research into the biological and societal drivers of breast cancer metastasis and mortality and catalyze the development of potential new treatments. Those funds are being split between three metastatic breast cancer research project teams — each of them co-led by a DCI investigator and a UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center investigator. (Project co-leaders from DCI include Zachary Hartman, PhD, Jennifer Freedman, PhD and Steve Patierno, PhD, and Terry Hyslop, PhD. LEARN MORE)

An additional $650,000 in Komen grants are currently supporting projects led by two DCI investigators:

  • A six-year $650,000 research grant (2018-2024) has been awarded to breast cancer researcher Donald McDonnell, PhD, for his project — "Targeting the GRHL2/AGR2/LYPD3 axis in breast cancer." McDonnell is the Glaxo-Wellcome Professor of Molecular Cancer Biology at Duke, associate director for Translational Research for DCI, and associate director of Basic Science Research for the DCI Breast Cancer Disease Group.
     
  • Two one-year grants (2021-22) totalling $50,000 are supporting a Translational Breast Cancer Research Consortium initiative led by breast medical oncologist Susan Dent, MD, a professor in the Department of Medicine who serves as associate director of Clinical Research for the DCI Breast Cancer Disease Group, clinical director for the Duke Consortium for Inflammatory Breast Cancer, and co-director of the Duke Cardio-Oncology Program.