Sidewalks to Science: Getting to Know Dr. Paula D. Bos, Ph.D. at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine

With lab colleagues at VCU

Dedicating her life to finding a cure for breast cancer, Dr. Paula D. Bos is driven to help Komen meet our Bold Goal of reducing the current number of breast cancer deaths in the U.S. by 50% by 2026. As an Assistant Professor of Pathology, she and members of her lab are dedicated to developing new treatment options for breast cancer patients with metastatic brain tumors.

In this month’s Sidewalks to Science blog, we will get to know Dr. Bos a little better.

When I’m not in the lab I…

  • Enjoy the outdoors with my daughter and husband.
  • Love reading and baking with my daughter.
  • Am an enthusiastic follower of my daughter’s soccer team. As a native Argentinian, I am very passionate about soccer.

Family Picture at the beach

 What I do…targeting immune cells to treat brain metastases.

Although metastatic breast cancer has spread to another part of the body, it’s still considered and treated as breast cancer. Breast cancer that has spread to the brain is treated with breast cancer drugs, rather than treatments for a cancer that began in the brain. However, treatments that work for the primary breast tumor are often ineffective at treating the metastatic brain tumor. Current treatment strategies for brain metastasis, which include surgery and radiation, only offer some improvements for most patients. Therefore, I want to improve the options available to breast cancer patients that have developed brain metastases.

I am investigating how a type of immune cell called a regulatory T (Treg) cell helps breast cancer cells that have spread to the brain grow and survive. Tregs can be found in primary and metastatic breast tumors and correlate with poor patient prognosis. A normal function for Tregs is controlling immune responses, and researchers have shown these cells have the ability to suppress the immune system response against cancer. With my Komen funding, I’m studying how Treg cells support brain metastases. I’m trying to develop a treatment strategy to disrupt the support of breast cancer cells that have metastasized to the brain that could be used in patients.

Breast cancer…touches the lives of so many.

My aunt is a 12-year breast cancer survivor, and other types of cancers have taken dear family members and friends.

Working with patients…motivates my research strategy.

Through my research, I have met and come to admire an incredible group of advocates. Their strength and tireless efforts to bring awareness and increase funding for breast cancer research are a constant incentive to intensify our research efforts.

Dr. Paula Bos

People with breast cancer should…participate in clinical trials!

With new technologies available, science is progressing at a fast pace. We have seen major improvements in the treatment of cancer, especially with the immune system checkpoint blocking antibodies. Breast cancer has yet seen the benefit seen by other cancers, but several approaches are at the clinical trial stage.

Komen is…about patient advocacy!

I have always been motivated to do research to answer pressing clinical needs, but since I started working with patient advocates a few years ago, I now have a better understanding of where the priorities are. Involving advocates allows us to know we are on the right track to discover something of value to the patient community.

“Research is a challenging, expensive, and time-consuming activity. Knowing that patient advocates agree with the goals of our research is reassuring that we are on the right track to discover something of value.”

You can support Dr. Bos and her research by donating directly to her grant here.

If you or a loved one needs information or resources about clinical trials, call our Clinical Trial Information Helpline at 1-877 GO KOMEN (1-877- 465- 6636) or email clinicaltrialinfo@komen.org.

The helpline offers breast cancer clinical trial education and support, such as:

  • Knowing when to consider a trial
  • How to find a trial
  • How to decide which trial is best
  • What to expect during a trial
  • Information about clinical trial resources

Congratulations to the 2018 Seattle 3-Day Milestone Award Winner, Nancy Schulman

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Please join us in congratulating our 2018 Seattle Milestone Award Winner; Nancy Schulman! The Susan G. Komen 3-Day® Milestone Award is given at each event to a walker or crew member who has an outstanding history of participation in the Komen 3-Day. At the Seattle 3-Day camp show, we presented Nancy with this special honor.

We learned just how much the 3-Day means to Nancy when we spoke directly to her…

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What was your inspiration to do your first 3-Day?

My sister, Susan, invited me to walk the 3-day with her in 2006. She had walked for the first time the previous year and had described the experience as ‘the world as she wished it could be every day’ – full of kindness, compassion and everyone looking out for each other. That really resonated. I had recently lost a close friend to this disease. Gail was 30 when diagnosed (her newborn wouldn’t nurse on the breast that had cancer). She had no family history of this disease and was 43 years young when she died.

So when my sister asked me to join her, I was motivated to walk in memory of my friend Gail, and in gratitude of my own health as my 50th birthday approached. From that very first year, my sisters, Ellie and Joni, along with my husband, Joel, and son, Logan, were incredible Walker Stalkers along the route – encouraging and cheering on the sea of pink.  Other family members join in each year when they can.  Team White Butterflies had begun.

Team Pin

What has brought you back year after year?

Seattle will be my 13th walk. Many things have kept me coming back to the pink bubble for the past 12 years, including: the caring community of walkers, crew, safety, medical, and staff – all working together to end breast cancers’ devastation; my son, who at the age of 6 challenged me to keep walking until he was old enough to walk with me (I did and 2018 will mark his third year as a walker); the diagnoses a few years ago of a cherished childhood friend and, last year, my beloved sister-in- law; the 4th/5th grade Junior White Butterflies our team has inspired; the butterfly wings that I wear at every walk, made by my sister Ellie, that carry the names of my donors and their loved ones; the firsthand knowledge that the money I help raise is making a difference – and the opportunity to see my fantastic husband in a pink wig and tutu!

What is the secret to your 3-Day fundraising success?

I don’t have any secrets to fundraising – I just ask. I ask anyone and everyone. And then I ask again. But that’s now – my first year I was incredibly intimidated by the idea of asking people for money. But to my surprise, I was able to raise more than the minimum.

My donors wanted to support finding a cure and shared stories about their families, friends or coworkers affected by breast cancer. So, the next year, I felt bolder and my reach widened. And, now I am admittedly greedy for this cause. It’s not personal if someone doesn’t make a donation. I also accept words of encouragement and a wave if they see me training around town. But if you don’t ask, it will always be a no.

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While I have been known to stand outside a grocery with a donation box, and post fliers around town, I do most of my fundraising by email. After my initial letter, usually in late spring, I send out short training updates about once a month, a little more frequently as the date approaches. The updates are key because with each one, my donations spike. We all need reminders. And, I follow up with genuinely grateful thank yous.  After the event, I send out a final thank you and recap.

I also wear my 3-Day shirts often and wear my White Butterflies team pin daily. If anyone comments on my pin or my shirt, they are rewarded with a smile and one of my 3Day business cards. By the way, the pins will be sold in Seattle for $10 along with cool knitted nipple hats made by a close friend. See, I told you I was greedy!

What is your best advice to anyone walking the 3-Day?

My best advice is to make the effort to meet and talk to your fellow 3-Dayers. Listen to their stories. Share yours. Laugh, cry, sing, dance. Have fun. It’s not a race, so enjoy the journey. It’s a journey of hope and inspiration through some pretty incredible cityscapes. You will make amazing friends along the way that I guarantee you will take with you when the 3-Day is over. Oh yeah, also train beforehand and stretch often on route. I change socks and underwear at lunch. (Doesn’t last long, but you sure feel refreshed!)

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What is a fun fact about you?

I love to read, listen to audiobooks and narrated books on tape to the blind for over a decade. I love it!

What are the most important lessons you’ve learned on the 3-Day?

A single step will bring you closer to your goal, so keep moving forward with perseverance and determination. You can’t always tell when your actions, kind word or helping hand will inspire or change a life.  So be there – show up – and spread kindness.  I can’t change the pain of those words, “You have breast cancer,”  but I know I am helping to make detection more accessible and treatment more tolerable and successful by raising money for, and walking in, the Susan G Komen 3-Day.  That is why I can’t walk away.

Sidewalks to Science: Getting to know Dr. April Kloxin, Ph.D. at the University of Delaware

Dr. Kloxin

Getting to know Dr. April Kloxin, Ph.D. at the University of Delaware

Dedicating her life to finding a cure for breast cancer, Dr. April Kloxin is driven to help us meet our Bold Goal of reducing the current number of breast cancer deaths in the U.S. by 50% by 2026. As an Assistant Professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, she is addressing the issue of late recurrence for breast cancer survivors.

In this month’s Sidewalks to Science blog, we will get to know Dr. Kloxin a little better.

When I’m not in the lab I…

  • Love to make things! These range from making materials in the lab that mimic tissues in the body to cooking dinner tonight! My favorite quick meals are breakfast foods, which I like any time of day.
  • Love being out in nature, especially hiking. I take my two little ones (two boys, ages four and two) out to our local White Clay Creek Preserve or Longwood Gardens when the weather is nice.
  • Am passionate about solving big problems through science and believe collaboration with others is key.
Dr. Kloxin with Augie and Luke at Longwood Gardens

With my two little ones at Longwood Gardens

What I do…

Study how the environment surrounding breast cancer cells can lead to metastasis

My research group is working to develop materials that mimic the body tissues where breast cancer recurrence is likely to occur. Our team is trying to understand how the environment of these tissues causes dormant breast cancer cells to “wake up”, leading to recurrence.

Breast cancer is…personal to me and my family

My mother is a breast cancer survivor who currently is 13 years disease-free. As a co-survivor, I know firsthand some of the challenges people with breast cancer and survivors face. When my mother was diagnosed, I looked at literature to learn about the latest treatment options for her type of ER+ breast cancer. I realized that patients face a constant concern of recurrence, even after successful initial treatment. Therefore, I decided to focus my research efforts on addressing this outstanding issue of late recurrence.

Dr. Kloxin with student Lisa Sawicki in lab looking at breast cancer cells in 3D culture

With Lisa Sawicki, student, looking at breast cancer cells in 3D culture

Working with patients…has been both motivating and enriching.

Our patient advocate, Kimberly Newman-McCown, provided valuable perspective on the needs of people with breast cancer and kept our work focused on developing tools and finding solutions that will help patients within the next decade.

People with breast cancer should…stay strong and engaged.

Patients and survivors are amazing, and your stories inspire and inform our efforts to find solutions.

Komen is…getting the word out about our research efforts!

I have been excited to engage with our local press to get the word out about our research funded by Komen. This year, I am organizing a team with my research group for the Komen Race for the Cure in Philadelphia, PA.

Family 2017 on vacation in NYC

2017 Family Vacation to NYC’s American Museum of Natural History

Quote…

”Stay strong and engaged! You are amazing and your stories inspire and inform our efforts to find solutions!”

Note: Dr. Kloxin is a Komen grant recipient generously funded by American Airlines.