Posted on by Dr. Francis Collins
A few years ago, Debra Auguste, a chemical engineer then at Harvard University, was examining the statistics on breast cancer: the second most common cancer in women in the U.S. after lung cancer. She was disturbed to discover that of all the ethnic groups, African American women with breast cancer suffered the highest mortality rates—with 30.8% dying from the disease [1-3].
As an African American woman, Auguste was stunned by this correlation. She wondered whether there was some genetic aspect of breast cancer cells in African Americans that made these cancers more aggressive and more difficult to cure.