A long-time NIEHS partner, Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (BCPP), formerly the Breast Cancer Fund, celebrated its 25th anniversary and recent name change at a dinner for 400 donors and friends April 6 in San Francisco.
“I’ve worked closely with BCPP for many years,” said Gwen Collman, Ph.D., director of the NIEHS Division of Extramural Research and Training. “They really do extraordinary work.” Collman represented NIEHS at the event.
The program included a video presentation with tributes from NIEHS and National Toxicology Program Director Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., and others.
“I want to congratulate you on 25 years of invaluable support of breast cancer patients and the research they count on,” Birnbaum said. “I also want to congratulate you on your new name. I really like the emphasis on prevention.”
A long history with NIEHS
The close and fruitful relationship between NIEHS and BCPP began in the early 2000s under former NIEHS Director Ken Olden, Ph.D., and BCPP founder Andrea Martin.
“NIEHS is vital to our work,” said Jeanne Rizzo, who has led BCPP since 2001, following Martin. “There’s no other agency we hold in higher regard for their research and the commitment to making it available to the public.”
BCPP worked with NIEHS to play a leading role in the Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Program. The organization also served on the interagency committee that produced the groundbreaking, congressionally-mandated 2013 report, “Breast Cancer and the Environment: Prioritizing Prevention(5MB).”
As a member of the advisory board of the NIEHS Sister Study(https://sisterstudy.niehs.nih.gov/English/index1.htm), launched in 2002, Rizzo and BCPP were instrumental in recruiting more than 50,000 sisters to participate in the long-term study of the environmental and genetic factors that influence breast cancer risk. BCPP has also been active in California’s biomonitoring program.
Disconnect prompted name change
Rizzo said the name change was long overdue. “The word ‘Fund’ confused us with other cancer groups and gave the impression either that we had a lot of money or that we gave money away,” Rizzo explained. “We have always been about prevention and partnerships.”
Rizzo leads the organization’s focus on reducing exposure to toxic chemicals and radiation by translating scientific evidence into public education and market changes. For example, BCPP has led campaigns to remove bisphenol A from food packaging and children’s products, and to remove toxic ingredients from personal care products.
Last year, as part of the NIEHS 50th anniversary celebration, the institute recognized Rizzo with a Champion of Environmental Health Research Award. Rizzo was cited for her tireless advocacy to improve public awareness of the increasingly complex science linking chemical exposure and breast cancer.
“Over the years, we’ve issued 30 reports on evidence linking chemicals to breast cancer, including occupational risks,” Rizzo said. “We’ve advocated for more science and translated that science into public policy initiatives across the country.”
(John Yewell is a contract writer for the NIEHS Office of Communications and Public Liaison.)