Research Philosophy

NBCF’s mission is to help now and inspire hope to those affected by breast cancer through early detection, education, and support services. This distinguishes NBCF from other breast cancer charities. While we fully support investments in research for a cure or new life-extending therapies, we are focused on helping the patient diagnosed today. Patients diagnosed today need life-saving interventions now, and many of these patients face barriers like cost, fear, and misinformation, and simply need navigation. Research that leads to a future medical breakthrough won’t help now and will be too late for many of these patients. 

Since our start in 1991, we have invested millions into research to improve early detection, diagnostics, and improvements to current therapies. While some of our funded projects have yielded impactful results, the overall investment is a drop in the bucket.  

National Institutes of Health invests over $40 billion each year to medical research. Other major cancer nonprofits add hundreds of millions to that number. Meanwhile, the overall cost of cancer care in the U.S. is over $150 billion a year. While every cancer patient wants a cure, there is a bigger problem cancer patients face today – navigating cost of care and the complexities of the cancer care system. 

History of Our Research Projects

NBCF was founded in 1991 with the mission to help women now. Since that time, NBCF has funded over $7 million in research projects. This investment led to the following discoveries:

  • Discovery of a homologue gene of HER2 which led to the development of Herceptin.
  • Founding member of Worldwide Innovative Network (WIN), created to accelerate the pace and reduce the cost of translating novel cancer treatments to the bedside by developing and applying, through worldwide clinical trials and research projects, the most promising advances in genomic-based cancer research.
  • Launch of WINTHER Trial, which aimed to expand precision oncology to patients with advanced solid tumors that progressed after treatment with standard therapies.
  • MD Anderson’s Breast Cancer Moon Shots Program – researching novel genetic markers to identify new plans of attack and improve triple negative breast cancer patient outcomes.

NBCF also funded breakthroughs in breast cancer early detection and patient navigation programs at Cleveland Clinic, UC San Francisco, and C-Change.

Our Research Now

NBCF supports research projects to study and improve existing programs in order to help improve quality of life for metastatic breast cancer patients and their caregivers as well as increase access to knowledge, resources, and training for patient navigators. NBCF funds the following research projects:

Metastatic Breast Cancer Retreat Research

  • Research partners: Saint Luke’s Cancer Institute & Koontz Center for Advanced Breast Cancer
  • Quantitative analysis
  • Qualitative analysis

Patient Navigation Research

  • Research partners: Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators
  • Multisite study of patient navigation programs
  • Creation of navigation metrics toolkit

Metastatic Breast Cancer Retreats

Study 1: Outcomes from a Metastatic Breast Cancer Retreat for Patients and Caregivers: Improvements in Gratitude and Personal Meaning 

Larson, C., Harry, K. M., Geske, S. J., Metsker, J., Miller, M., Eyler, J., Adams, H., & Pluard, T. J. (2020, March). Outcomes from a Metastatic Breast Cancer Retreat for Patients and Caregivers: Improvements in Gratitude and Personal Meaning. Virtual poster presented at the annual conference of the American Psychosocial Oncology Society.

Saint Luke’s Cancer Institute & Koontz Center for Advanced Breast Cancer 


Lillie Shockney’s “A Journey of Courage and Hope” three-day retreat protocol is designed to address the specific psychosocial needs of women with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) and their caregivers. Over the course of three days, patients and caregivers participated in guided activities that supported the medical, spiritual, psychological, and relational challenges of MBC. Thus, this study investigated how the three-day psychosocial retreat affected self-reported measures of gratitude, personal meaning, and emotional intimacy. 

Study 2: Experiences of Metastatic Breast Cancer Retreat: A Qualitative Analysis Comparing Patients and Their Caregivers

Carly Larson, M.A.; Savannah Geske, Ph.D., Janie Metsker, RN BSN CN-BN; Monty Miller, LCSW; Jake Eyler, MDiv., BCC

Saint Luke’s Hospital Koontz Center for Advanced Breast Cancer


Over the course of two years, Saint Luke’s Cancer Institute hosted three weekend-long therapeutic retreats for women with metastatic breast cancer and their significant others. The three-day long program was based on Lillie Shockney’s, A Journey of Courage and Hope retreat protocol. At the end of each retreat, all participants completed open-ended survey questions about their experience. This quality improvement research project reviewed the responses in order to improve and enhance the retreat curriculum to best serve both patients and their caregivers. 

Patient Navigation

National Evidence-Based Oncology Navigation Metrics: Multisite Exploratory Study to Demonstrate Value and Sustainability of Navigation Programs

Over the past 3 years, a dedicated task force comprised of the Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators (AONN+) leadership and members, in collaboration with the American Cancer Society and Chartis Oncology Solutions, has been involved in the extensive exploratory multisite study to demonstrate the value and sustainability of navigation programs.


The purpose of the study is to (1) assess the reliability and validity of 10 key metrics selected from the list of 35 developed by AONN+, and (2) gain insight into the barriers and challenges navigation programs encounter during the implementation of navigation metrics. Harnessing the power of this information to create best practices will elevate navigation and garner industry support for advancing patient-centered care delivery.


The result of those efforts is the Navigation Metrics Toolkit. This new resource will be an invaluable aid to navigators, oncology program administrators, healthcare executives, and other clinicians who are linked to navigation in creating transformative patient care and defining oncology navigation professional practice.

Help support women in need

Donations are always appreciated, but there are lots of great ways to get involved.