The Cristine Meredith Miele Foundation focuses funding efforts on risk assessment and early detection practice and research as these are the best ways to defeat breast cancer. We support projects that’ll have a meaningful impact on scientific development in pertinent research fields or in the lives of real women at high risk for breast cancer. The projects below are examples of where we choose to invest our funding. All persons involved in the Cristine Meredith Miele Foundation take no compensation to ensure that almost 100% of donations directly fund the fight against breast cancer.
Parker Family Health Center’s Women’s Breast Health Initiative
Our work with the Parker Family Health Center is aimed at helping women within our own community in the early detection of breast cancer. We understand the importance of early detection, especially for women at high risk to a family history of the disease. We also know that performing all of the necessary genetic testing is not financially possible for all women.
The Parker Family Health Center currently provides mammograms and BRCA testing for women in our community. Through a new initiative, they aim to provide more resources for women at the poverty level who are BRCA negative but present a family history of breast cancer. We pledge to regularly fund the Women’s Breast Health Initiative, which will supplement further genetic testing for these women.
Discovering the Genetic Mechanisms of Hereditary Breast Cancer
A collaboration between Memorial Sloan Kettering, Harvard University, and M.I.T., this project seeks to discover additional genetic factors that cause breast and other cancers. Principal investigator Dr. Kenneth Offit and his team at Memorial Sloan Kettering discovered the most common mutation of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes in 1996. Recent technical innovations have made it possible to sequence more of the genome than was previously possible. Dr. Offit and his team use these innovations to discover novel genes predisposing to breast cancer in BRCA-negative families with multiple affected individuals.
The Starr Foundation lead financed the project with a $1.2 million grant. The Cristine Meredith Miele Foundation provided funding for a dedicated researcher to focus specifically on analyzing the data generated by this project.
With the growing scientific progress of the post-genome era, it’s becoming possible to sequence entire human genomes. Each human genome (20,000 genes) contains approximately thirty gigabases of information, creating what has been termed the “data deluge” of genetic information now being made available to cancer researchers. This avalanche of genomic information requires a curator to analyze and interpret the data in order to allow discovery of the causal variants for human disease.
In collaboration with the Broad Institute of Harvard and M.I.T., the Clinical Genetics Laboratory at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, under the leadership of Cornell University Professor of Medicine and Public Health Kenneth Offit MD, MPH, has undertaken a large gene discovery project. The project is carrying out whole exome sequencing followed by targeted whole genome sequencing of individuals with families affected by hereditary breast, colon, and hematologic, as well as other, malignancies. The goal of the project is to identify novel causes of breast and other cancers in families that do not have mutations of known genes, such as BRCA1/2. This effort has been supported by the endowment of the first Cristine Meredith Miele Fellow in Computational Genomics and Bioinformatics. The dedicated role focuses on database and computational support for the Clinical Genetics Service (CGS).
The first recipient of the Cristine Meredith Miele Fellowship in Computational Genomics and Bioinformatics is Srujana Cheguri. She is a graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology and has experience in a wide range of complex programming languages, as well as online genomic databases. She is actively involved in the master database creation that governs this project. Her computational work will be assisted in the laboratory by a new recruit, Intan Schrader, an MD/PhD who will be part of the team dedicated to this project.
During the summer of 2011, human subject protocols were approved and DNA samples were prepared and assessed from approximately a dozen families who were selected for the first round of genotyping, which was completed during the last quarter of 2011.
Our funding ensured that the project moved forward quickly and generated valuable data to assist the identification of novel causes of breast and other cancers.