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Chapel Hill – A UNC scientist was awarded one of seven grants presented by the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer at their seventh annual event in Charlotte, NC.

Melissa Troester, PhD, MPH, assistant professor of epidemiology in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, received $150,000 to support a research project with the goal of identifying biomarkers that will help doctors understand who is at highest risk for breast cancer recurrence. Troester is a member of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The research project Dr. Troester is leading represents a continuation of a project initiated in 2009. Troester, with co-PI Keith Amos, MD, assistant professor of surgery, will lead the Normal Breast Study, a unique hospital-based study of breast tissue. Troester and Amos have hypothesized that tissue surrounding the cancer may influence the clinical behavior of the cancer.

Troester says, “We hope to learn more about how the normal tissue around a tumor interacts with the tumor to determine its fate.” She adds, “We are grateful to Avon for providing us with a means to extend our study to include a larger group of North Carolinians, representative of the racial composition of our state.”

Other institutions receiving grants were: Carolinas Medical Center, Clemson University, The Medical University of South Carolina, Randolph Hospital, Presbyterian Hospital, and the North Carolina Baptist Hospital.

During the Avon Walk Charlotte, which is a noncompetitive event, participants either walked a marathon (26.2 miles) or a marathon and a half (39.3 miles) over the weekend. The 2011 Walk raised $1.7 million. Proceeds from Walk events fund local, regional and national breast cancer organizations to support five areas of the breast cancer cause, including awareness and education, screening and diagnosis, access to treatment, support services, and scientific research.