Dr. Lee & Komen Scholars- How Education Is Empowerment

Olivia Bonevento is a featured guest blogger for Komen CSNJ.  She lives at the Jersey Shore and is currently a student at a liberal arts college in Pennsylvania.  Read more about Olivia on her personal blog – oliviabonevento.wordpress.com.

In my past blogs I have spoken, more often than not, about Komen’s goal to empower women. However, I have not taken the initiative to speak on education, and how integral it is to the Komen cause. Education is extremely important in any organization- especially organizations that deal with a life-changing illness as Komen does. That is where Dr. Adrian Lee and the Komen Scholars come into the picture. The Komen Scholars are pretty special- they are an advisory group of 60 scholars and leaders who have distinguished themselves in the breast cancer community. They have all either a) made significant strides in advancing the field of breast cancer or b) have shown promise of doing so in the future. One thing is certain: they are dedicated to furthering the mission of Komen, which is to save lives and end breast cancer forever.

They are led by the Komen Scientific Advisory Board, and possess a wide range of expertise, including, but not limited to, clinical research, laboratory research, pathology, prevention, radiation oncology, surgery, and other research disciplines. This diversity in all areas of the field allow them to advise Komen at every level, to their fullest capacity. They have a primary responsibility: to lead and participate as reviewers in Komen’s scientific peer review process. However, they also play a crucial role in communication for Komen- they serve as ambassadors and experts across our communities and across the Affiliate network. With education also comes advocacy, and that is yet another thing that the Komen Scholars dedicate themselves to. They ensure that the unique perspectives of breast cancer are heard.

mon-med-eventDr. Adrian Lee is an integral part of the Komen Scholars and of the Komen mission in general. Dr. Lee is an extremely intelligent man- he received his BS in Biochemistry from Kent University in England. He performed his graduate studies at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in London, and then at the University of Surrey in Guildford, England. Dr. Lee has looked at breast cancer in-depth since his graduate days- his postdoctoral studies consisted of studying the role of insulin-like growth factors (IGF) in breast cancer. He moved up the ranks, being promoted to Instructor of Medicine, then being recruited as an assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine. He currently is sharing his talents and intelligence with students at the University of Pittsburgh as a professor of Pharmacology, Chemical Biology, and Human Genetics. He also is the director of the Women’s Cancer Research Center at the university, as well as the co-leader of the Breast and Ovarian Cancer program there.

When creating a laboratory, Dr. Lee had a basic goal in mind: to translate basic cells and molecular research findings into the understanding and treatment of breast cancer. His lab studies many aspects of breast cancer research, in turn utilizing basic biochemistry and molecular biology from clinical trials. His research has two main focuses: one, to understand how IGFs regulate breast transformation, and how this knowledge can be used for successful treatment of patients; two, to research studies of genomic alterations in breast cancer with a focus in structural rearrangements (i.e. translations, gene fusions).

As a Komen Scholar, Dr. Lee has made a mark on the Susan G. Komen Foundation in countless ways. Perhaps his most significant is his dedication to researching breast cancer and in showing people how crucial it is to fund research, not only for the patients, but for the organizations that support them. In 2013, Dr. Lee received a research grant totaling 225,000 that was approved by Komen’s national board of directors for funding. This grant is a big deal, and the research that Dr. Lee will be conducting on the rationale combination of anti-IGF-IR and chemotherapy in breast cancer is sure to assist breast cancer management in the future.

ctca-eventIn October, Dr. Lee will be speaking on behalf of the Komen community at two events- the first is a Breast Cancer Awareness Luncheon that will be hosted by the Susan G. Komen Central and South Jersey (CSNJ) Affiliate along with Monmouth Medical Center on October 7th. The second event, on October 8th, is a part of the Affiliate’s Breast Cancer Education Series. As October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Komen CSNJ finds it extremely important to have as many events during the month as possible to promote breast cancer education, awareness, and advocacy.

Komen CSNJ created the Breast Cancer Education Series to provide their 13-county service area with the most recent information within the breast cancer community. The 2016 series is sponsored by Cancer Treatment Centers of America, and will consist of leading experts, like Dr. Lee, presenting on new research, self-care techniques, and healthy lifestyle tips. Along with Dr. Lee, Dr. Christian Gonzalez, Naturopathic Doctor, and Geri Delmont, Mind Body Therapist will be presenting.

As we get ready to jump into Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it is important to look at not only the people working for the cause at Susan G. Komen, but also to look at the remarkable scholarly figures who are dedicating their time and energy to researching for treatment/cures. On behalf of Susan G. Komen Central and South Jersey, I encourage you to make the most out of the educational opportunities that this month offers- it is never too late to learn, advocate, and change.