The Pillars of Komen

KOMEN MISSION: Save lives by meeting the most critical needs in our communities and investing in breakthrough research to prevent and cure breast cancer.

With your help, we’re having a real impact against breast cancer. Find out how your donations are saving lives and making progress toward our mission and our bold goal through the four Komen Pillars below.







National Breast Cancer Research

Since the inception of the Komen Foundation in 1982, the total research investment has been more than $1 billion with a $210 million focus on Metastatic Breast Cancer. Susan G. Komen® has funded more breast cancer research than any other non-profit, outside of the U.S. government.

In 2019 alone, $26 million for new research projects was funded across the United States. That research focuses on Metastatic Breast Cancer, developing new, more-effective treatments, and addressing disparities in breast cancer outcomes. Of the 2019 total, almost $1 million was funded to researchers in Nashville, Tennessee.

Komen’s 2019 portfolio includes* 60 grants totaling $25,689,384. Of these:

  • 38 grants totaling over $17 million are focused on better understanding metastasis (why it occurs and how to prevent and treat Metastatic Breast Cancer)
  • 39 grants totaling over $15 million for catalyzing the development of new therapies for all stages of breast cancer
  • 16 grants looking into novel treatments for Triple Negative Breast Cancer
  • 14 grants totaling over $6 million investigating drug resistance (why drugs stop working in some patients)
  • 9 grants focused on disparities in breast cancer outcomes
  • 5 grants that apply big data technology (e.g. Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning) to breast cancer research

Local Research Investment

Since 2000, Komen Central Tennessee has funded $11,112,428 to community programs serving local women and men, while contributing over $4.4 million to Komen research. Learn more about the 2020 Tennessee Research Report here.

Nashville Researchers Awarded in 2019

Of the 2019 National Research total, almost $1 million was funded to researchers in Nashville, Tennessee.

  • Jennifer Pietenpol, Ph.D. will work on identifying therapeutic targets for different types of triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) by combining genomic data mining and molecular biology. She will also identify genomic markers that can predict sensitivity or resistance to drugs called PI3K inhibitors.
  • John Wilson Ph.D. will work on developing a safe and effective immunotherapy for treating metastatic breast cancer.

Clinical Trials

Over the past 40 years, breast cancer treatment has greatly improved due to lessons learned through clinical trials. These trials test the safety and benefits of new treatments as well as new combinations (or new doses) of standard treatments. They can also study other parts of care including risk reduction, diagnosis and screening.

Dedicated physicians, researchers and other health professionals, as well as hospitals, medical research centers and funders are all key to clinical trials. However, most important are the participants!

Learn more about Clinical Trials here.

Fast Facts on Precision Medicine here.







Providing Care in our Local Community

In the 41-county service area that Komen Central Tennessee serves, we focus on caring for our breast cancer patients in the following ways:

  • Addressing gaps in access to and utilization of affordable, high quality health care
  • Providing access to screenings, diagnosis, and treatments
  • Helping with transportation, childcare and more so patients can focus on the treatment they need

Treatment Assistance Program

This program bridges the gap for under-served individuals who are actively undergoing breast cancer treatment. With this program, we aim to help those who are facing financial challenges by providing limited financial assistance, education and support services to low-income, under-insured or un-insured breast cancer patients.

Financial Assistance is available for breast cancer treatment expenses such as:

  • Oral Pain Medication
  • Anti-Nausea Medication
  • Oral Chemotherapy
  • Oral Hormone Therapy
  • Child Care
  • Elder Care
  • Transportation to and from Treatment
  • Lymphedema Care and Supplies
  • Durable Medical Equipment

To learn more on how to apply for this funding, click here.







Local Community Support

In the 41-county service area that Komen Central Tennessee serves, we provide community support in the following areas:

  • Providing people the opportunity to share their passion for the movement and compassion for each other
  • Support survivors, caregivers and those living with Metastatic Breast Cancer
  • Provide information and guidance to help navigate through the journey of care

Community Grantees Here to Help

Since 2000, Komen Central Tennessee has awarded over 400 local, community grants totaling over $10.1 million in our local 41-county service area of Greater Nashville, Upper Cumberland, Chattanooga and North Georgia. These local partnerships allow un-insured and under-insured women, and men, in our community to receive a screening or diagnostic testing they might not otherwise have been able to afford.

Through our 2019-20 grant cycle, we were able to provide the following:

  • 7 MRI’s
  • 12 Biopsies
  • 88 Ultrasounds
  • 92 Financial and Transportation Services
  • 100 Health Navigation
  • 156 Survivorship Support Services
  • 185 Diagnostic Imaging Services
  • 344 Mammogram Referrals
  • 895 Clinical Breast Exams
  • 2,064 Screening Mammograms
  • 9,895 Women and Men will receive Education

Click here to see our Current Mission Partners for 2020-21.







Komen Advocacy

Our advocates act as the voice for more than 3 million Breast Cancer Survivors in the United States. They aim to:

  • Advocate for more research funding and protection for patients
  • Education healthcare providers, policymakers, opinion leaders and and the public on the burden of breast cancer
  • Empower patients and the public to take charge of their own breast health

2019-20 Priorities

Every two years, Komen Advocacy identifies issues where Komen’s voice can provide the greatest potential impact. A broad-based, intensive vetting and selection process includes feedback from Affiliates, representatives from the African-American Health Equity Initiative (AAHEI), metastatic breast cancer community, Advocates in Science (AIS), Komen Scholars and subject matter experts.

Learn more about our current priorities by clicking here.

How to Become an Advocate 

If you are passionate about ending breast cancer and have an interest in scientific research, we welcome you to join us. Komen’s research advocates, or Advocates In Science may be men or women, laypersons or healthcare professionals, Komen Affiliate members, or individuals involved in advocacy with other breast cancer organizations.