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University of Miami to Study BRCA Rates in Caribbean Women

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – A University of Miami researcher has reeled in a $600,000 grant from the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation to study the genetic characteristics of breast cancer in women in the Caribbean.

The research will study the genetic characteristics of 1,000 breast cancer patients from four Caribbean countries by searching for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which are found in 23 percent of women with breast cancer in the Bahamas — the highest rate in the world — compared with three to five percent in the US.

"In order to further investigate this we will offer free genetic testing and counseling to women of Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, the Cayman Islands and Dominica who have breast or ovarian cancer," principal investigator Judith Hurley, an associate professor of clinical medicine and medical director of the Hematology/Oncology Clinics at Jackson Memorial Hospital, told GenomeWeb Daily News in an e-mail.

"This research may lead to a better understanding of issues unique to black women throughout the Caribbean and in the US, as we attempt to address breast cancer's impacts across diverse groups," Komen President Elizabeth Thompson said in a statement.

This research is a collaboration with Women's College Hospital in Toronto, Hurley said.