July 22, 2021
A new endowed professorship at The University of Kansas Cancer Center has been named to honor Carol Fabian, MD, founder of the cancer center’s Breast Cancer Prevention and Survivorship Research Center. At $4 million, it is the second-largest professorship to ever be established at KU Cancer Center and the fourth largest at the University of Kansas Medical Center.
“For decades now, Dr. Fabian has represented the best of the best at this institution. This professorship honors Dr. Fabian, who has served as a model for what our cancer center is truly capable of accomplishing,” said Roy Jensen, MD, cancer center director. “This professorship will allow her pioneering work to continue into the future.”
The professorship was established through KU Endowment with gifts of all sizes. A $2 million challenge grant from the Hall Family Foundation inspired more than $2 million in additional gifts from the Patterson Family Foundation, Komen Foundation, Dee and Dave Dillon and more than 50 other donors, including many who gave through a LaunchKU online crowdfunding campaign.
Dr. Fabian is a world-renowned translational researcher focused on short-term risk assessment and prevention of breast cancer. In 1989, before genetic testing for predisposition to cancer was available, Dr. Fabian founded a research clinic for women with a family history of breast cancer, as well as those with prior treated breast cancer. She and her team developed a minimally invasive way to sample healthy breast tissue over time. Called random periareolar fine needle aspiration (RPFNA), the procedure is used to identify changes in breast tissue that put women at higher risk for developing breast cancer. Observed changes to the tissue help determine the likelihood a chemoprevention treatment such as tamoxifen would be useful in preventing breast cancer.
Over the past two decades, Dr. Fabian has focused on developing chemoprevention treatments that do not induce hot flashes and are thus more likely to be acceptable to women. Dr. Fabian’s work in breast cancer prevention has been funded by multiple organizations, including Susan G. Komen, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and the National Cancer Institute.
Dr. Jensen and Dr. Fabian will work together to identify a nationally recognized and funded physician-scientists who are good candidates for the professorship.
“Translational research is all about team science,” Dr. Fabian said. “I’m so excited about this professorship because it allows the recruitment of either a PhD scientist with a lot of clinical collaborations or an MD-PhD scientist who can pull people together across multiple disciplines.”