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HudsonAlpha researcher, BCRFA working to find cure for breast cancer

A faculty investigator at HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, a member of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama’s Medical Advisory Council, is focusing her research on understanding cancer pathology, progression and chemoresistance to personalize cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Dr. Sara Cooper has been working with the BCRFA since 2016, when the nonprofit foundation – which funds the leading breast cancer research in Alabama – provided a grant to HudsonAlpha and the University of Alabama at Birmingham for a collaborative research project to study biomarkers in immunotherapy.

(Iron City Social, BCRFA/Contributed)

“We’ve had a relationship with them ever since,” said Beth Davis, BCRFA president and CEO. “Sara helps get the word out in the HudsonAlpha community.”

HudsonAlpha’s most recent BCRFA-supported project began several years ago in Huntsville and has expanded throughout the state. The longstanding initiative, Information is Power, looks at genetic screenings to determine inherited risks for breast cancer, as well as some other genomic markers that might show up during these screenings.

“Information is Power is the whole concept,” Davis said. “Because if you know, you can do something about it.”

HudsonAlpha, a nonprofit institute dedicated to developing and applying scientific advances to health, agriculture, learning and commercialization, developed a community-wide screening program to provide individuals in North Alabama increased access to information about their hereditary cancer risk. The Information is Power initiative aims to reach underserved communities and more rural areas where, according to Davis, “physicians might not recommend genomic screenings.”

Cooper’s research has also extended into Historically Black Colleges and Universities, including Alabama A&M University in Huntsville and Miles College in Birmingham.

“BCRFA has supported several research and community outreach initiatives led by HudsonAlpha,” Cooper said. “Early on, they funded a collaborative project focused on enhancing immunotherapy response. More recently, they have supported our Information is Power initiative to increase our reach to medically underserved communities throughout the state of Alabama.

“We are grateful for their efforts to find cures and support women living with breast cancer.”

With the BCRFA’s Medical Advisory Council, she serves as “boots on the ground” within the medical community.

“Everything we raise in Alabama stays in Alabama,” Davis said. “We only fund research across the state, so she helps get the word out among north Alabama researchers.”

Davis said Cooper also sits on a review committee as an expert for the BCRFA to help review the proposals received and to help score and rate research proposals “to make sure we’re funding the best research.”

HudsonAlpha’s annual Tie the Ribbons luncheon 11:30 a.m. Oct. 12 in the Von Braun Center Saturn Ballroom. The BCRFA-supported event raises funds to support breast and ovarian cancer research programs, as well as provides community outreach for the Information is Power initiative. Click here to register; the deadline is Thursday.

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