The Lombardi Center hosted a series of events for students, faculty, researchers and community members throughout the Washington, D.C.-Maryland-Virginia (DMV) area this October to honor Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The Lombardi Center is D.C.’s only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center. It provides cancer care through a combination of clinical trials, research, treatment and community partnerships with groups like The Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Prevention and The Health Justice Alliance at Georgetown Law.
“When we think about what we do during breast cancer awareness month, it’s what we do every day,” said Louis M. Weiner, director of the Georgetown University Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.
According to Weiner, cancer research is incredibly important in D.C., which has seen a decline in cancer death rates by 49% since 2000. Researchers and healthcare professionals want to improve these trends further, especially in the breast cancer research field.
“Breast cancer has been a focus of excellence in research and in clinical care here at Georgetown for more than 30 years. We have a remarkable group of investigators and physicians taking care of women with breast cancer and studying ways to prevent breast cancer, to diagnose it earlier, to intercept it and change its disease course early, and to treat it.” Weiner said.
The Lombardi Center hosted the 17th annual “Lombardi Women” event at the Ritz-Carlton in Tysons Corner, Va., on Oct. 11. The event brought together nearly 400 advocates for breast cancer research from the DMV to hear briefs from Georgetown researchers on recent breakthroughs in breast cancer research and efforts to find a cure.
The event also featured a silent auction that raised $37,000 for breast cancer research. Lombardi Women events have raised over 5 million dollars for breast cancer research at Georgetown in the past 17 years. Funds raised at the event benefit The Lombardi Center’s Nina Hyde Center for Breast Cancer Research.
Over 50 doctors and researchers at Nina Hyde are currently investigating the biological basis of breast cancer and working toward its prevention and cure. The research produced by the Nina Hyde Center contributes to Georgetown’s 8th-place world ranking in the number of scientific papers produced on breast cancer.
Money raised by events like Lombari Women fund dozens of breast cancer research projects on campus, such as Rebecca Riggins’ lab at the Lombardi Center. The Riggins Lab investigates the functions of orphan and ligand-regulated nuclear receptors, and other molecules of interest, to develop therapeutic approaches.
Dua Mobin (CAS ’25), a biology of global health major, has been involved with breast cancer research at the Lombardi Center since her first year at Georgetown. Mobin is part of the Riggins Lab and is working to develop therapeutic treatments for breast cancer using molecular biology approaches.
“Breast cancer runs in my family, and I have always been interested in cell biology and how different cancers need to be treated differently based on their environment and on the populations they affect,” Mobin told The Hoya.
The cancer center also hosted the second annual Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer BellRinger race Oct. 21. Bellringer raises money for all forms of cancer research, including breast cancer, through community and student fundraising. Each rider pledges $1000, $1250 or $1500 to ride 25, 50 or 100 miles. Over 900 riders completed the course and 400 volunteers, along with hundreds of supporters, came together to support the riders.
Kate Colgan, director of rider recruitment for Bellringer, said the event supports critical efforts to find a cure for breast cancer.
“It takes several years to get funding through the government, and the government is more interested in funding the ‘safe-bets.’ They are not always as interested in funding those ‘moonshot’ ideas that are ultimately going to be the cure for cancer,” Colgan told the Hoya.
Colgan said Bellringer has the ability to create action against cancer through personal relationships.
“Our riders reach out to their friends and family and share their stories of why they are passionate about finding a cure and why it matters to them,” Colgan said.
Tessa Smiley (CAS ’25) rode 25 miles to support cancer research and said that she was motivated by her family to participate in Bellringer.
“I have had multiple family members and friends affected by cancer, and knowing that I could contribute something, however small, to make sure future generations will not have to suffer in the same way was ultimately more than enough motivation for me to ride,” Smiley told The Hoya.
The Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Prevention at The Lombardi Center collaborated with Prince George’s Goes Pink, an annual campaign that raises awareness about the impacts of breast cancer, to host “Men Who Cook in Pink” on Oct. 28.
“Men Who Cook in Pink” featured celebrity chefs from throughout Prince George’s County who prepared free samples of their culinary specialties in support of Breast Cancer awareness. The event also included free mammograms, breast exams, bra fittings, health and wellness sessions and a survivor’s lounge for breast cancer survivors in the DMV.
Weiner said that community engagement events are a priority for The Lombardi Center.
“One of the attributes of a National Cancer Institute Designated Cancer Center is that we not only do outstanding patient care and outstanding research and clinical trials, but we also have a focus on responding to the needs of the people in our catchment area and focusing on community outreach and engagement. We’re really proud of the work we do in those areas,” Weiner said.