Houston women: Be a healthy tissue donor, help in the fight against breast cancer


Attention women in and around the Houston area who want to make a big contribution to the fight against breast cancer! Come February 2015, you can have that chance by donating a healthy breast tissue sample that will help scientists better understand the causes and prevention of breast cancer.

Physician scientists in the Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center at Baylor College of Medicine have joined forces with the Houston affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the local Pink Ribbons Project organization to collect healthy breast tissue samples for the Komen Tissue Bank at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center in Indianapolis – the only repository of healthy breast tissue in the world.

“By studying normal breast tissue in comparison with breast cancer tissue, we can learn critically important information about what drives the disease, how we might prevent and best treat it,” said Dr. Julia Nangia, assistant professor in the Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center at Baylor and the principal investigator on the event. “This is an opportunity for local women to help us take a stand against this disease by donating precious breast tissue samples that we can study in a number of different ways.”

Houston collaboration

Together, Baylor, Komen and Pink Ribbons Project will host an event at the Baylor College of Medicine Medical Center on the McNair Campus (7200 Cambridge, 77030) on Feb. 28 where interested participants can sign up to donate their samples, which are obtained by a needle biopsy performed by licensed healthcare providers overseen by the Baylor team (and including many of their own physicians.)

"This is a meaningful opportunity for individuals to contribute to new knowledge, and for researchers to learn of differences between ‘normal’ and cancerous breast tissues," said Dr. Richard Theriault, president of the Pink Ribbons Project Board. "Studying, learning and developing innovative approaches to breast cancer diagnosis and treatment are fundamental goals of this project. Pink Ribbons Project supports these efforts and is grateful for the true altruism of those who will participate. Our support is consistent with our mission to provide Houston and neighboring communities with access to fundamental breast health services and inspirational programming."

"The opportunity to participate in The Komen Tissue Collection Project as a donor means that you are contributing to the health of humanity which will benefit breast cancer research for generations to come,” said Adriana M. Higgins, executive director of Susan G. Komen Houston. “We are fortunate to live in the most diverse city in the country which could help us achieve what was promised nearly 30 years ago; to end breast cancer."

Importance of minority participation

Minority women are particularly important to the cause, Nangia said. “We know breast cancer can affect these groups differently but we need to better understand why,” she said. “The Houston community is so diverse; we are really hoping to represent women from all groups at our collection event.”

Local organizations including the Hope Clinic, El Centro de Corazon, the Houston Department of Health and Human Services and the Foundation of Praise will play a major role in helping to educate and recruit potential minority donors. 

Participation requirements

To be a donor, a participant must:

• Be a woman at least 18 years of age.

• Not be on blood thinners.

• Not have breast implants.

• If pregnant or breastfeeding, must call for consultation prior to registering for an appointment.

Women who have had breast cancer may participate if they have an unaffected breast.

History of Komen Tissue Bank

The tissue bank began at the IU Simon Cancer Center in 2005 as a small initiative to study healthy breast tissue. Now, largely funded by Komen, it has grown much larger in scale, collecting samples from women from all over the country. Tissue samples from more than 4,000 women have been collected to date.

Access to the samples had led to the publication of more than 15 studies in major medical journals.

More information

For more information about the Komen Tissue Bank, the researchers involved and the donation process.

Volunteers, both medical and non-medical, are also needed to staff the event. Interested volunteers can sign up to receive more information online.

Sign up to receive more information about the Houston event and select the DONATE TISSUE tab to join the interested donor list or call 866.763.0047.

Representatives with the Komen Tissue Bank and its partners will reach out to interested donors in November 2014 and begin setting appointments for the Feb. 28 event in Jan. 2015. Appointments will be required to participate; no walk-ins will be accepted on the day of the event.

For more information about the Komen Tissue Bank and event details, contact Amy Trullinger at ajtrull@iupui.edu or 317-274-4051.

Tags: research