When Lynn Sage passed away at age 39 after a long, hard-fought battle with breast cancer, her family’s dedication to find a cure for the disease took flight in establishing The Lynn Sage Foundation.
Today, thanks to the foundation’s Lynn Sage Scholars program, Abde Abukhdeir, PhD, assistant professor of Medicine and Pharmacology at Rush University Medical Center, is one step closer to finding a cure.
“The Rush community's confidence and support of Abukhdeir's research, along with his pharmaceutical focus and pedigree, all appealed to us immediately,” said Halee Sage, co-founder of The Lynn Sage Foundation. “As we learned more about his work and him as a person, we were confident he'd make an impressive Lynn Sage Scholar.”
As vital funding for breast cancer research continues to shrink in today’s competitive environment, The Lynn Sage Scholars program funds talented researchers like Abukhdeir to build on their most promising discoveries.
“Breast cancer is not a single disease — it's composed of distinct sub-types,” added Sage. “Dr. Abukdheir's focus on one particularly aggressive form of breast cancer, commonly known as HER2, and how a sub-set of HER2 patients might benefit from single-agent Herceptin without additional chemotherapy, caught our eye as unique and hopeful.”
“There is a sea of genetic mutations that drive breast cancer,” said Abukhdeir. “But we only have scientific evidence on how to treat cancers that carry a handful of these mutations. This support from The Lynn Sage Foundation will allow us to develop robust preclinical support for how to treat some of these breast cancers so we can take the next step of testing our findings in a clinical trial.”
Abukhdeir’s research team has also identified a group of genes whose expression can predict which patients will respond to trastuzumab, also known as Herceptin, therapy. Most recently they have repurposed drugs that block key growth signaling pathways for use in breast cancer.
“We are honored to be working with Dr. Abukhdeir and Rush University Medical Center in our shared vision and dedication to eradicate breast cancer,” said Sage. “And we look forward to a long and meaningful partnership."
Founded in 2003, The Lynn Sage Foundation raises more than $350,000 annually to support The Lynn Sage Scholars program, funding some of the country’s top breast cancer researchers.