Ravi Jain, M.D., Ph.D.
Middlesex Health
Patient-Centered Diagnosis of Breast Cancer:  Can Molecular Breast Imaging (MBI) Reduce Unnecessary Biopsies?

This research grant will allow us to continue our research on the use of the new technology of Molecular Breast Imaging ( MBI).  We are investigating whether a negative MBI scan is reliable enough to obviate biopsy of findings on mammograms and breast ultrasounds.  Our initial results are very encouraging, but the new grant will help us extend the work to a direct comparison between MBI and Biopsy.  This will help reduce the number of negative biopsies, thereby reducing physical and psychological costs to the patient and monetary costs to the healthcare system.

Donna J. Twist, Ph.D.
Norma Pfriem Breast Center
Mujer a Mujer (Woman to Woman) Program

The Norma Pfriem Breast Center delivers breast health education to vulnerable populations through outreach that is conducted at food pantries and community-based organizations throughout the city.  A grant from the CT BHI will provide training to bicultural, bilingual breast cancer survivors to serve as outreach educators in our program, Mujer a Mujer/Woman to Woman.  As well-known and trusted members of the community, they can amplify the work we do as they deliver the life-saving message that early detection is the best prevention.  They will serve as a link from the NPBC to the community, and as a liaison for the community to life-saving early detection services at the NPBC.

Linda Vahdat, M.D., MBA
Norwalk Hospital – MSK
Development of the Connecticut Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) Program at Norwalk Hospital - MSK

Triple negative breast cancer (ER, PR and HER2 negative, TNBC) is a very challenging type of breast cancer to treat. As such, there is an urgent need to develop new, targeted therapeutic approaches for these patients, which can only be achieved if we understand the underlying biology of the tumor.

The CT Breast Health Initiative Grant will fund the Norwalk Hospital-Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Partnership Project to develop a Triple Negative Breast Cancer Clinic. The overarching goal is to integrate research, treatment and education under one roof. With this laser-like focus and an integrated research infrastructure, the hope is to accelerate the push forward to identify new targets and strategies to treat and cure these patients based on understanding the underlying biology of the tumor. Ultimately by understanding the biology our hope is to have it guide prevention strategies for those with the most significant risk.

We will collect patient information along with tumor samples and blood specimens from patients as part of a TNBC program to be able to study the biology of the tumor. While the funding will support the research efforts of the program, this aspect will be carried out in conjunction with patient and physician education, and treatment focusing on TNBC in our clinic. Specifically, the funding will be used to support (1) pathology sample collection, (2) assessment of TNBC subtype using RNA seq technology (TNBC subtype®), (3) collection, separation and storage of blood specimens, and (4) database creation and warehousing. We know that by having a specialty focus this leads to having novel therapeutics available for our patients in Connecticut.

Mark O’Donnell, Ph.D.
Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center
Saint Francis Comprehensive Breast Health Center Community Outreach/Education Program

This funding will allow the Comprehensive Women’s Health Center to hire an outreach worker whose goal will be to visit churches and community groups in underprivileged areas in the Greater Hartford area.  This outreach worker will provide invaluable breast health education and will also have access to our imaging schedule so that she can book screening mammograms at times convenient to the community members. 

Our outreach worker is bilingual and will make every effort to make others feel comfortable coming in to our center and to make sure they understand and are understood as they go through the screening process.   Included in this communication is finding appropriate health education materials to bring out to the community and having material translated as needed.  Another goal of this outreach worker is to follow-up with potential community members to make sure they keep their appointments and to follow up if they need a ride or need to reschedule. 

Linda Hodgkins, MS OTR/L CLT-LANA
Hartford HealthCare Rehabilitation Network/The Hospital of Central Connecticut
Rehabilitation/Prevention of Lymphedema

Hartford HealthCare and the Hospital of Central Connecticut Cancer Institute treats hundreds of patients with breast cancer related lymphedema, a chronic and progressive swelling disease. This condition requires daily use of compression garments that are often not covered by insurance. The cost can be devastating to cancer survivors.  The CT BHI has provided funding to patients in the Hartford HealthCare Lymphedema Program to assist with these out of pocket expenses, including items such as compression arm sleeves, gloves, and bras.  This funding not only supports breast cancer survivors with the financial burden of having lymphedema, but assures patients that they are not alone in dealing with this difficult disease.