Young Texans Against Cancer Supports Breast Cancer Research 

Roshni Rao, M.D.
Roshni Rao, M.D.

Young Texans Against Cancer (YTAC) awarded a $25,000 grant to UT Southwestern Medical Center to support Roshni Rao, M.D.’s, research to assess the personalized genetic history of patients with triple negative breast cancer. Dr. Rao, Associate Professor of Surgery, is a recognized leader in breast cancer care and research. 

Triple negative breast cancer is characterized by tumors that do not express estrogen, progesterone, or HER2Neu receptors. This subtype of breast cancer is known to be particularly aggressive with a high rate of recurrence. It represents a difficult treatment challenge because it does not respond to traditional hormonal therapies. As a result, women with triple negative tumors are faced with higher death rates. Due to the poor prognosis of this type of cancer, it contributes to a disproportionate number of breast cancer deaths.

Dr. Rao aims to demonstrate that patients with a diagnosis of triple negative breast cancer, regardless of self-reported ethnicity, share a similar personalized genetic history. She hopes to identify the specific genetic ancestry which may predispose women to triple negative breast cancer. 

“I am so grateful for the support that YTAC has provided for this breast cancer research project, which has the potential to generate paradigm shifting data,” Dr. Rao said.   

YTAC is an independent, nonprofit organization comprised of young men and women between the ages of 22 and 40 years old. Members have lost a loved one to cancer, witnessed a loved one fighting cancer, or are seeking to become more actively involved in the cancer community. Established in Houston in 2001, the organization raises funds for local research and support organizations and educates the community on cancer research. One of four chapters in Texas, the Dallas Chapter has 400 members who have raised and donated $325,000 since 2008 to organizations in the local community.

“YTAC realizes the importance of supporting both research and service programs,” said Catharine Flagg, President of the YTAC Dallas Chapter. “We also want to have a diverse giving program that encompasses the needs of the local community.” 

Ms. Flagg is exceptionally proud of the amount of funding that has been contributed to local cancer initiatives by the Dallas chapter in such a short time span, including their recent grant to support Dr. Rao’s breast cancer research.

YTAC has provided funding for other cancer research at UT Southwestern. In 2010 Robert M. Bachoo, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics, received a $20,000 grant for his research on glioblastoma, a highly aggressive form of brain cancer. YTAC also has recently announced that they will award another grant later this year to Stephen Skapek, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics, for his pediatric cancer research.