The promise of mouse models of human breast cancer drew nearly 400 scientists from around the
world to Sacramento for the 24th Congress of the International Association for Breast Cancer Research.
The congress, held Nov. 15 at the Sacramento Convention Center, was hosted by UC
Davis Cancer Center and sponsored by the National Cancer Institute's Mouse Models of Human Cancers
Consortium and Specialized Programs of Research Excellence, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services'
Office of Women's Health, and the California Breast Cancer Research Program.
Robert D. Cardiff, professor of pathology at UC Davis
School of Medicine and Medical Center, served as congress director. Regarded as one of the world's
foremost mouse pathologists, Cardiff saw the meeting as an opportunity for leaders from industry, government,
science and the breast cancer advocacy movement to explore collaborative new ways to better deliver research
discoveries to breast cancer patients.
"Our understanding of these mouse models has reached the point that they should be rapidly deployed to
help alleviate human suffering," he argues.
The Sacramento meeting drew extensive local, national and international media attention. At the first
of two press conferences, Cardiff and William J. Muller of McGill University in Montreal reported reversing
breast cancer in laboratory mice by blocking genetic switches that govern the disease. University of Pennsylvania
researchers reported on a novel mouse model of human breast cancer engineered to enable scientists to
turn oncogenes on or off at will, using a triggering agent. And investigators from the University of Michigan
Comprehensive Cancer Center in Ann Arbor released the news that they had successfully grown breast cancer
tissue from both human and mouse mammary stem cells, suggesting the stem cells may be a factor in breast
cancer recurrences and an important new target for breast cancer therapy. Media from Canada to China,
Australia to Iraq, reported on the studies.
A second press conference addressed intellectual property rights issues that some scientists say create
barriers to use of genetically engineered mice in breast cancer research. An Associated Press story on
the controversy resulted in articles in major newspapers throughout California, in addition to coverage
by United Press International, Agence France Presse and the Canadian Broadcasting Company.
All told, news from the conference was distributed to an estimated audience of more than 12 million through
54 print and wire service articles, more than 43 broadcast airings and reports posted on more than a dozen
Internet media outlets.
Founded in the mid 1950s, the International Association for Breast Cancer Research is an international
community of scientists focused on the important issues in modern breast cancer research. The Sacramento
meeting was the organization's first devoted to preclinical models of human breast cancer research.