Share story

A Fred Hutch scientist has received a $4.1 million award from the Department of Defense to study metastatic breast cancer.

Cyrus Ghajar received an “Era of Hope” scholar award through the DOD’s Breast Cancer Research Program (BCRP). The BRCP is the second-largest funder of breast cancer research in the U.S.

Ghajar directs the Laboratory for the Study of Metastaic Microenvironments, known as LSM2, at Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. His work focuses on how microenvironments within different tissues influence cancer cells that migrate from primary breast cancer sites to different spots in the body.

“The hypothesis is that these cells – which have left the breast and are in other organs basically sleeping – eventually wake up,” Ghajar said in a statement. “When women relapse after seven or 10 years after treatment, these dormant cells are likely the root of recurrence.”

As part of the new award, Ghajar has teamed up with other Fred Hutch researchers as well as investigators at Harvard Medical School and the University of Colorado, Denver. Two breast cancer patient advocates are also involved. The “Era of Hope” award encourages high-impact, collaborative research, particularly among young researchers.