PHILADELPHIA — A new collaboration between the Basser Research Center for BRCA in the University of Pennsylvania’s Abramson Cancer Center and FORCE, a national nonprofit advocacy organization serving people and families facing hereditary breast and ovarian cancer, will strengthen ties between patients dealing with these issues and the Penn researchers and physicians who are devoted to finding new ways to prevent and treat these diseases.

Together, the two organizations will work to enhance web resources and information available to patients who carry mutations of the BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 genes, which are linked to a high risk of developing breast, ovarian, and other cancers during their lives. As part of the partnership, FORCE will help promote participation in research being conducted in the Basser Center, and provide trained, one-on-one peer advocates to patients at Penn. In addition, FORCE’s next annual conference will be held in Philadelphia, which will include sessions led by Penn physicians and staff, and opportunities for conference attendees to enroll in registries used to further research being conducted by Basser Center investigators. A quarterly support group for patients involved in FORCE will also be held in collaboration with the Basser Center.

“Individuals involved with FORCE can play a key role in helping us shape our research agenda by telling us about their experiences and helping us understand what information and resources are important to them as they navigate the process of receiving genetic testing results, planning strategies to reduce their risk of developing cancer, or receiving treatment for the diseases linked to these genes,” says Susan Domchek, MD, executive director of the Basser Center. “Working with FORCE provides us with a terrific opportunity to connect with a motivated, smart group of people across the nation who want to be our partners as we work toward improving the care we can offer them.”

The Basser Research Center for BRCA was established in the summer of 2012 through a $25 million gift from Penn alumni Mindy and Jon Gray, in honor of Mindy’s sister, Faith Basser, who died of ovarian cancer at the age of 44. Emphasizing outreach, prevention, early detection, treatment and survivorship, the Basser Center aims to contribute to all stages of research and clinical care related to BRCA-related cancers.

“We are very excited about this partnership. We have worked closely with team members from Penn over the years and are elated to have a formal partnership that will enhance our ability to provide input into the direction of hereditary cancer research and provide support and education to our community,” says Sue Friedman, DVM, founder and executive director of FORCE. “Most of all, our collaboration with the newly founded Basser Center brings us a tremendous amount of hope.”

Penn Medicine is one of the world's leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $5.3 billion enterprise.

The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States for the past 18 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $373 million awarded in the 2015 fiscal year.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System's patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center -- which are recognized as one of the nation's top "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S. News & World Report -- Chester County Hospital; Lancaster General Health; Penn Wissahickon Hospice; and Pennsylvania Hospital -- the nation's first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional affiliated inpatient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region include Chestnut Hill Hospital and Good Shepherd Penn Partners, a partnership between Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network and Penn Medicine.

Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2015, Penn Medicine provided $253.3 million to benefit our community.

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