To enable SPORE investigators to rapidly develop new research opportunities which could translate into early benefits for breast cancer patients, and to allow for exploration of new techniques which may require substantial efforts but which are nevertheless not ready for full scale multi-year research funding, we have devoted considerable effort and resources to this SPORE Developmental Research Program. The Executive Committee, together with the advocate members and the Internal Advisory Board, selects proposals for funding as Developmental Projects, based on their scientific merit and relevance to SPORE translational goals. Through the funding of pilot projects, we broaden the scope of research, and allow exploration of high-risk ideas that have the potential for high yields in treatment, prevention, or basic biology of breast cancer. We also attract new investigators with a wide variety of special expertise to apply their expertise to problems and questions in breast cancer research, and we catalyze productive collaborations in which individual skills and approaches combine to create progress that no single investigator could achieve alone. It is important to point out that, although only $50,000 per year is requested from SPORE funds for this program, the Dan L. Duncan Cancer Center is contributing an additional $50,000 per year in recognition of the value of this outreach effort to cancer research in general. During the 21 years of our previous Breast SPORE, initiated in 1992, we funded 97 developmental projects, contributing to 120 publications and providing essential preliminary data for 77 funded grants plus several still pending (including new Projects 3 and 4 In this new SPORE proposal). This mechanism complements the larger and longer-term regular research projects, offering a degree of flexibility which leads to enhanced productivity for the SPORE as a whole.
For the fastest and most efficient progress against breast cancer, we need to draw the broadest possible range of ideas and approaches into the fight. Yet we can't devote a full-scale project to every idea. Thus these developmental projects allow us to take some chances, to attract new ideas and backgrounds into the tent and give them a preliminary tryout, so that the most promising can earn support to become larger successful efforts either within the SPORE or with other major funding.