Breast Cancer Fund Director of Science Elected Chair of the California Breast Cancer Research Program Council


Breast Cancer Fund Director of Science

Sharima Rasanayagam, Ph.D., the director of science at the Breast Cancer Fund, has been elected chair of the California Breast Cancer Research Program (CBCRP) Council, and begins her one-year term on September 1.

For nearly a decade, the Breast Cancer Fund has played a leadership role in CBCRP, which is the largest state-funded breast cancer research funding program in the United States.

 “I hope to continue the great work advocates, scientists, doctors and patients have done to make the CBCRP what it is today,” Rasanayagam said. “I encourage the program to continue to focus a significant portion of its portfolio on prevention of the disease so we can learn how to stop the disease before it starts thereby saving lives and preventing suffering.”

Dr. Mhel Kavanaugh-Lynch has served as director of the California Breast Cancer Research Program since 1995, and has managed the awarding of 1,006 research grants to 108 different institutions and community organizations across California, totaling nearly $262 million.

 “The Breast Cancer Fund has been at the forefront of research efforts that aim to understand the environmental causes of breast cancer, and paths to prevention for more than a decade. I applaud their longtime leadership with the California Breast Cancer Research Program, and am confident that as CBCRP chair, Sharima Rasanayagam will help make an immediate impact on breast cancer prevention.”

Fifty percent of CBCRP’s available funds, which mainly come from California’s tobacco tax, are applied to investigator-initiated research projects that focus on highly innovative ideas, translational research, and community participation and address the following topics:

  • The community impact of breast cancer: The social context
  • Etiology and prevention: Finding the underlying causes
  • Biology of the breast cell: The basic science of the disease
  • Detection, prognosis and treatment: Delivering clinical solutions

The other 50 percent of CBCRP funds are allocated to program-initiated research projects to:

  • Identify and eliminate environmental causes of breast cancer.
  • Identify and eliminate disparities/inequitiesin the burden of breast cancer in California.
  • Develop population-level interventions (including policy research) on known or suspected breast cancer risk factors and protective measures.
  • Develop targeted interventions for high-risk individuals, including new methods for identifying or assessing risk.

As chair, Sharima will lead the CBCRP council in finalizing funding solicitation and in selecting projects that will be funded. This goes hand-in-hand with Sharima’s role as director of science of the Breast Cancer Fund, where she oversees the organization’s science-related activities, including monitoring and interpreting emerging scientific research, and developing and managing science-related program and policy initiatives.

Before coming to the Breast Cancer Fund, Sharima was the founding academic coordinator at the U.C. Berkeley Institute for the Environment, where she built the institute from the ground up and fostered university-wide discussions on environmental issues. Previously, she served as consul for science and technology at the U.K. Consulate-General in San Francisco, where she built ties between scientists in the U.K. and California, encouraging collaboration on research and business ventures. Sharima holds a Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Kent at Canterbury, U.K.

Breast Cancer Fund President and CEO Jeanne Rizzo served as chair of the CBCRP council in 2010, and continues to serve on CBCRP’s Strategy Advisors Group. Breast Cancer Fund Senior Policy Strategist Nancy Buermeyer serves on CBCRP’s Policy Research Advisory Group.

For more information about CBCRP:


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