Susan G. Komen Welcomes Nine New Research and Patient Advocacy Leaders to Advisory Roles

New Additions to Komen Scholars/Advocates in Science add Expertise in the Study of Disparities, Immunology, Recurrence and Metastatic Breast Cancer

DALLAS – June 23, 2021 – Susan G. Komen®, the world’s leading breast cancer organization, today announced the addition of six esteemed breast cancer researchers and three new patient advocates to important advisory roles.  These women and men will join an exclusive group of breast cancer researchers, clinicians and advocates who help guide the organization’s work to save lives and end breast cancer, particularly through the organization’s $1.1 billion research program – the largest nonprofit investment in research outside the U.S. government.

“We are excited to welcome such incredible, knowledgeable individuals to the Komen Scholars. Whether they bring experience from the laboratories, the clinic, or as patients themselves, these individuals are assets to our organization and to the work we are doing to accelerate discovery of new advances in patient care,” said Victoria Wolodzko, SVP, Mission at Komen.

The class of Komen Scholars includes three patient advocates, who will also serve as members of the Komen Advocates in Science Steering Committee, and six esteemed researchers. Chosen for their knowledge, leadership and contributions to breast cancer research, Komen Scholars provide scientific expertise and guidance to a variety of Komen programs, including leading Komen’s scientific peer review process. They also serve as experts and advocates for Komen at forums and events across the country.

“These new Komen Scholars have all made transformative and lasting contributions to the breast cancer field and the communities they serve,” said Jennifer Pietenpol, Ph.D., Komen’s Chief Scientific Advisor and the Executive Vice President for Research at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Director of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. “Komen is fortunate to have their expert guidance to advance our mission and proud to support their ongoing pursuits, which are focused at reducing death and suffering from breast cancer.” 

The newest members of the Komen Scholars are:

  • Tomika Bryant, an Advocate in Science from King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, who is a trained biochemist and organic lifestyle blogger and activist diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in 2013. Tomika serves as a consumer reviewer for the Department of Defense’s Breast Cancer Research Program, serves on Komen’s Advocacy Advisory Taskforce, and was a co-founder of the Black Women’s Cancer Collaborative, in addition to other advisory and leadership roles.
  • Lisa Coussens, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Cell, Developmental & Cancer Biology, and Associate Director of Basic Research in the Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health & Science University.  A 2018 Brinker Award for Scientific Distinction in Basic Science winner for her work in the field of immunology, her research focuses on inflammation and cancer and understanding how immune cells regulate evolving cancer cells. 
  • Christina Curtis, Ph.D., M.Sc., Associate Professor of Medicine, Oncology and Genetics at Stanford University.  She is the Director of Breast Cancer Translational Research and Co-Director of the Molecular Tumor Board at Stanford Cancer Institute.  Trained in molecular and computational biology, her work using systems biology and computational approaches to understand cancer progression has helped define the molecular map of breast cancer and led to new understanding of tumor progression.
  • Sheila McGlown, an Advocate in Science from Swansea, Illinois.  Sheila is a 25-year Air Force veteran who has been living with HER2-positive, hormone receptor-positive metastatic breast cancer for 11 years.  Since her diagnosis, she has been a passionate advocate for Black patients and those living with MBC, with the goal of raising awareness about racial disparities in breast cancer care and outcomes.  She has served as a consumer reviewer/patient advocate for the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program and METAvivor, among others.
  • Tuya Pal, M.D., Ingram Professor of Cancer Research and Associate Director for Cancer Health Disparities at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.  Her research is focused on identifying the genetic risk factors that place individuals at a higher risk for breast cancer, as well as strategies to reduce this risk, including efforts focused on underserved populations.
  • Leigh Pate, an Advocate in Science from Seattle, Washington.  Diagnosed with breast cancer twice, Leigh is a public affairs consultant and trained cancer research advocate who founded the Lobular Breast Cancer Alliance. She graduated from Project Lead in 2016 and has authored papers, abstracts, and posters on lobular breast cancer.
  • Rulla Tamimi, Sc.D., M.S., the inaugural Chief of the Division of Epidemiology in the Department of Population Health Sciences at Weill Cornell Medicine, and the Associate Director of Population Science at the Sandra and Edward Myer Cancer Center.  An esteemed cancer epidemiologist, her research focuses on breast cancer risk and prognosis, having identified several genetic, molecular and lifestyle predictors of breast cancer risk.
  • Melissa Troester, Ph.D., Director of the UNC Center for Environmental Health and Susceptibility and Professor in the Departments of Epidemiology and Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Her research focuses on understanding interactions between the environment and breast genomics.  She is the principal investigator on the long-running Carolina Breast Cancer Study (CBCS), a study of breast cancer epidemiology and biology focused on understanding breast cancer disparities in Black women.
  • Nikhil Wagle, M.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Harvard Medical School, and Medical Oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and an Institute Member at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.  His research focuses on translational cancer genomics and precision cancer medicine, particularly in metastatic breast cancer.  The major goals of his work are to better understand the biology of breast cancer and develop new ways to overcome or prevent drug resistance in patients with advanced cancers.

About Susan G. Komen®
Susan G. Komen® is the world’s leading nonprofit breast cancer organization, working to save lives and end breast cancer forever. Komen has an unmatched, comprehensive 360-degree approach to fighting this disease across all fronts and supporting millions of people in the U.S. and in countries worldwide.  We advocate for patients, drive research breakthroughs, improve access to high-quality care, offer direct patient support and empower people with trustworthy information.  Founded by Nancy G. Brinker, who promised her sister, Susan G. Komen, that she would end the disease that claimed Suzy’s life, Komen remains committed to supporting those affected by breast cancer today, while tirelessly searching for tomorrow’s cures. Visit or call 1-877 GO KOMEN. Connect with us on social media at

This story originally appeared in The Komen Blog

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