Grants Scholarships

Recipients of the Markos Family Breast Cancer Research Grant



Gui Su, PhD, Assistant Scientist
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Dr. Su received the award for her research on the insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) axis which plays a critical role in breast cancer progression and has been linked to resistance to chemotherapy and hormone therapy in breast cancer. Dr. Su has made significant contributions to the project of investigating the interaction of stromal fibroblast and breast cancer cells. She has greatly driven the progress of the project by miniaturizing a 3D collagen gel co-culture model into a microfluidic 3D co-culture system. In this system, Dr. Su is able to utilize primary mammary fibroblasts, which are isolated from breast cancer patient’s specimen and are usually in limited amount, to simultaneously screen the paracrine function of multiple stromal factors. By using microfluidic 3D co-culture system, Dr. Su has discovered a tumor-grade dependent functional hierarchical network of stromal factors in carcinoma associated mammary fibroblasts. She will further research this interesting discovery.


Wei Xu, PhD, Assistant Professor of Oncology
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Estrogen receptors (ER) come in two forms – alpha and beta. ER-alpha promotes tumor growth while ER-beta blocks it. Drugs (such as tamoxifen and raloxifene) that are generally thought to target ER-alpha have been the standard treatment for breast cancer for years, but they don’t work for all patients. Dr. Xu’s research will involve finding out why the treatment fails and how estrogen receptors can be targeted differently to increase patient survival and reduce mortality. She has identified two naturally occurring compounds that selectively activate ER-beta, and she and her colleagues will evaluate the properties of these compounds to determine if they might prove effective in treating breast cancer. Dr. Xu’s research will reveal novel insights into the mechanisms through which ER alpha and ER beta function and will lay the groundwork for improved clinical approaches to the treatment of breast cancer.

[Note: Dr. Xu is also one of only three scientists in the country to have won the 2010 Era of Hope Scholar Award. The award, from the U.S. Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program, supports individuals who have high potential for innovation in breast cancer research early in their careers. She will use the $3.6 million grant over five years to further her studies.]


Adeline Veillet
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Adeline will receive the Markos Family Breast Cancer Research Grant  for her work assessing the role of Tenascin C on breast cancer risk. Twin studies suggest that genetic factors account for about 30% of a woman’s risk to develop breast cancer. Building from previous genetics studies looking to pinpoint genes associated with breast cancer risk, Adeline’s research furthers efforts to identify genes associated with breast cancer that will have profound prevention implications.


Cecilia Bellcross, MS
University of Wisconsin – Madison

The objective of this study is to validate a clinically practical screening tool to identify individuals at potential hereditary risk for breast/ovarian cancer. The tool is designed to maximize the effeciency with which health care providers triage patients to cancer genetics services. The tool will be administered to approximately 3,000 women undergoing mammography at three Dean Health System clinics in Madison. To evaluate the tool’s effectiveness, detailed pedigree analysis will be performed on a subset of 300 individuals completing a telephone interview. Application of the tool in primary care will provide an opportunity to improve the identification and management of women at increased risk for breast/ovarian cancer.