Recipients of 2023 Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Awards Honored

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Susan G. Komen presented its 2023 Breast Cancer Awards to four physician-scientists and one research advocate for their contributions to advancing breast cancer discoveries and improving patient outcomes. The five recipients were recognized at the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Awards event in San Antonio—coinciding with the 2023 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.


  • Susan G. Komen Brinker Awardees: Olufunmilayo F. Olopade, MBBS, FAACR, FASCO, and Daniel F. Hayes, MD, FASCO, FACP
  • Susan G. Komen Rising Star Researcher Awardees: Sara M. Tolaney, MD, MPH, and Gaorav P. Gupta, MD, PhD
  • Susan G. Komen Research Advocacy Champion Awardee: Patricia A. Spears, BS, FASCO

Susan G. Komen Brinker Awards

In 1992, Susan G. Komen established the Brinker Awards to honor leaders in basic science and clinical research. The 2023 recipients were selected as a result of their significant impact on breast cancer research and clinical practice—both of which are critical to treating this type of cancer. They were also recognized for enhancing the understanding of the mechanisms underlying the genesis of breast cancer and pioneering advances in breast cancer care.

The recipients of the 2023 Brinker Awards were:

  • Olufunmilayo F. Olopade, MBBS, FAACR, FASCO, the Walter L. Palmer Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine and Human Genetics as well as founding Director of the Center for Clinical Cancer Genetics and Associate Dean for Global Health at The University of Chicago, received the Brinker Award for Scientific Distinction in Basic Science. Dr. Olopade has worked to identify cancer-predisposing gene variants that may be prevalent in certain ancestral populations, leading to groundbreaking translational findings in hereditary breast cancer and cancer risk assessment. Further, her research has substantially improved the ability to identify patients at high risk of developing breast cancer and has enhanced prevention and early detection efforts—including for patients living in underserved communities around the world.
  • Daniel F. Hayes, MD, FASCO, FACP, the Stuart B. Padnos Professor of Breast Cancer Research at the University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center and Professor of Internal Medicine in the Division of Hematology/Oncology at the University of Michigan Medical School, received the Brinker Award for Clinical Research. Dr. Hayes has created novel tumor biomarker tests that are used globally to assess prognosis and predict chemotherapy response, recurrence, and treatment side effects in patients. His research has accelerated the development of precision care and therapeutics for patients with breast cancer and enabled precise monitoring of patients after treatment, so they can receive the most effective individualized treatments.

Susan G. Komen Rising Star Researcher Awards

The Rising Star Researcher Awards were newly introduced in 2023 to celebrate mid-career investigators whose work has demonstrated the potential to significantly impact the field of breast cancer research and who have displayed strong leadership skills in the breast cancer community.

The recipients of the 2023 Rising Star Researcher Awards were:

  • Sara M. Tolaney, MD, MPH, Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School; Chief of the Division of Breast Cancer Oncology; and a senior physician at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Associate Director of the of the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers, was recognized for her significant contributions to the development of novel treatment regimens involving less toxic therapies to improve patient outcomes and quality of life.
  • Gaorav P. Gupta, MD, PhD, Associate Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as well as Associate Chair for Research in the Department of Radiation Oncology and Co-Leader of the Breast Cancer Program at the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, was acknowledged for his seminal research on the interplay between genome integrity pathways and breast cancer initiation, progression, and response to therapy. His research may translate to innovative strategies for assessing treatment, including the use of noninvasive liquid biopsy tests to monitor treatment and personalize radiotherapy and other cancer treatments.

Susan G. Komen Research Advocacy Champion Award

The Research Advocacy Champion Award was also newly introduced in 2023 and looks to recognize the work of an emerging or established leader in research advocacy who is highly effective in ensuring that the unique and valuable perspectives of patients with breast cancer, cancer survivors, and cancer cosurvivors are integrated into the scientific dialogue to drive progress, improve patient outcomes, and help realize Susan G. Komen’s vision of a world without breast cancer.

The recipient of the 2023 Research Advocacy Champion Award was:

  • Patricia A. Spears, BS, FASCO, Scientific Research Manager and Director of the Patient Advocates for Research Council at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and Susan G. Komen Advocates in Science, a renowned cancer research patient advocate, a breast cancer survivor for more than 20 years, and a recent survivor of hepatic cancer, was honored for her decades-long commitment to research advocacy. Through sharing patient insights with researchers, advancing clinical trials, communicating research to the public, and mentoring the next generation of patient advocates, Ms. Spears has worked tirelessly to advance breast cancer research.


“This year’s recipients are distinguished leaders in their fields and have dedicated their careers to improving outcomes so the next [patient] diagnosed with breast cancer can have a more personalized treatment plan and a better long-term outcome—and for this, the entire breast cancer community is grateful for their contributions,” emphasized Ann Partridge, MD, MPH, Co-Chief Scientific Advisor at Susan G. Komen and Vice Chair of Medical Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

“The field of breast cancer is better today because of these five outstanding individuals and their dedication to furthering our understanding of the disease, to discovering new therapies, and to ensuring [patients] diagnosed with breast cancer can live their fullest and best lives. I am thrilled that [Susan G.] Komen is recognizing each of them for the countless ways they have impacted millions of [patients] affected by breast cancer,” concluded Jennifer A. Pietenpol, PhD, Co-Chief Scientific Advisor at Susan G. Komen as well as Chief Scientific and Strategy Officer and Executive Vice President for Research at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.