Briana Banks awarded Komen ASPIRE grant to study breast cancer disparities

CCB student Briana Banks and her advisor, Matthew Brady, have been awarded a Komen research grant to investigate how psychosocial stressors experienced by Black women during adolescence, such as racism, bullying, and economic disadvantages, may contribute to the development of breast cancer.  This is a new award created by Komen to support research trainees from historically marginalized communities and help build a more diverse breast cancer workforce. 

Adolescence is a critical time of physical and psychological development for young women and is also the time when breast tissue develops. While research has shown that environmental and genetic factors can increase the risk of breast cancer, little is known about how psychosocial stress experienced during puberty may also influence breast cancer risk.  

Research has shown that Black women exposed to chronic stressors of microaggression and low socioeconomic status have a higher incidence of more aggressive breast cancers, like triple negative breast cancer (TNBC), compared to white women. What are some of the underlying causes that lead to this disparity? How does psychosocial stress influence the biology of breast cancer? 

Banks is hopeful that her Komen-funded study will answer some of these questions. “I know that Briana will be an excellent role model and spokesperson for addressing disparities in cancer research and health care policy,” commented Dr. Brady. 

Banks explained her passion for disparities research comes from a desire to better understand the mechanisms controlling breast cancer and her unique perspective as a Black woman in a field where marginalized racial and ethnic groups are underrepresented. “I’ve always wanted to do research that directly impacted women that look like me,” she said. 

Read the full story "New Komen ASPIRE Grantee Briana Banks is Building a Bridge to Eliminate Breast Cancer Disparities for Black Women," originally published August 15, 2023