AP NEWS

Foundation partners with Baylor, medical centers for research

October 3, 2018

Nancy Owens Breast Cancer Foundation, a nonprofit organization supporting breast cancer research in Houston, has helped to fund research efforts at Baylor College of Medicine, and at other medical centers that are dedicated to researching and finding a cure for the disease.

The Nancy Owens Breast Cancer Foundation is organized to fund one or more qualified public charities that supports education, care and research to find a cure for breast cancer, while memorializing Nancy Owens’s life, the values she lived by, and the courage with which she faced her bout with breast cancer.

“On Sept 7, 2001, Nancy Owens, a loved and well respected person in the real estate industry, lost her 20-year battle with breast cancer. She dedicated a large part of her life to the fight. She hoped that one day there would be a cure, she hoped other people wouldn’t have to go through this,” Amy Bernstein, chairman of the foundation said.

The foundation was started as a collective effort by a committee of Nancy’s close friends.

“Because Nancy was my best friend, and my mentor, and Gloria Moorman’s longtime assistant, who joined me at Bernstein reality after her passing, Gloria and I got together and collected a group of Nancy’s longtime friends to start the foundation,” Bernstein said.

The committee members originally thought that the foundation would be small, and would only have an annual luncheon. It has since grown to several events through out the year including a golf tournament and a recent, new Cocktails for the Cure event.

“Since the inception, we have donated over $2 million to organizations,” Bernstein said.

This year’s donation to Baylor College of Medicine funded the purchase of a machine that focuses on the cell-free circulation tumor DNA. By analyzing the DNA, physicians and scientists are able to define the genetic aberrations of a primary tumor or metastatic lesion.

Dr. Matthew Ellis, Ph.D., is a physician scientist at Baylor College of Medicine, who works with the new machine, noted that the main goal is to extend the curability window.

“We are waiting too long to intervene in patients who are destined to relapse. The only way they know they have relapsed is that symptoms come back. We need monitoring techniques,” Ellis said. “This instrument helps us detect DNA molecules that are the calling card that the disease has not been eradicated.”

Ellis continued, “We are serving the needs of women and engaging the community and explaining what we do. Education is an important aspect and how the medical research world serves the people. These are all things we are passionate about and we need the help from foundations like Nancy Owens to make it work.”

The Nancy Owens Breast Cancer Foundation also gave a donation this year to the Houston Methodist Research Institute Department of Nano Technology, which funded the research to develop a small implant, the size of a grain of rice, to deliver immunotherapeutic directly into the tumor to treat triple negative breast cancer called NDES.

Another donation to The University of Texas MD Anderson Center funded research to investigate ways of activating a patient’s own immune system to fight their cancer. The funds have allowed the initiation of a clinical trial evaluating vaccination in patients with the early stages of breast cancer to determine their immune response against that specific tumor.

“The foundation’s hope for the future is that we can continue the work that we are doing and raising funds to support these projects that we feel align with our mission statement,” Bernstein said.

“I think the future is bright for breast cancer patients. Mortality rates are falling steadily for the last 20 years. The cure will come from a more fundamental understanding of the disease. We need to study and talk with patients. Those are where the answers are to the most difficult questions,” Ellis said.

The Foundation’s annual luncheon will be held on Monday, Oct. 22 at the Hilton Americas hotel at 1600 Lamar Street. This year’s speaker is singer Melissa Etheridge, who is a breast cancer survivor herself.

For more information, and for those who wish to donate and volunteer their services, or to buy tickets for the luncheon, visit www.nancyowens.org.

rebecca.hazen@chron.com

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