About the AMBER Consortium

 

The AMBER Consortium is addressing the pressing health disparity issues in breast cancer, by combining data, biospecimens and expertise from four of the largest studies of breast cancer in African American women; the Carolina Breast Cancer Study (CBCS), the Black Women's Health Study (BWHS), the Women's Circle of Health Study (WCHS), and the Multi-Ethnic Cohort (MEC). Our purpose in forming this collaboration is to discover genetic, biologic, reproductive and behavioral risk factors for breast cancer subgroups defined by tumor biology and age at onset. The theme unifying the four Projects within this Consortium is that breast cancer is not a single disease entity, but a combination of distinct disease subtypes, with separate clinical outcomes and etiologic risk factors.

This collaboration provides the resources for us to address our underlying hypothesis by combining data, biologic samples and expertise across all four existing studies. As part of this consortium we are conducting four scientific projects, each supported by four cores, all of which are designed to help to shed light on the complexities of this disease.

Each of the four scientific projects offers innovative approaches in studying breast cancer in African American women. Project 1 uses fine-mapping, resequencing and bioinformatics, incorporating gene expression data into the analyses, to identify causal alleles and interactions. Project 2 follows up on the provocative findings of increased risk of early onset aggressive breast cancer with parity and amelioration by breastfeeding, examining the relationships in a large population, with consideration of potential genetic modifiers. Project 3 is the first to evaluate interactions of physical activity and body size with genetic variants in the insulin and IGF pathway in relation to early aggressive breast cancer in AA women. Project 4 takes an evolutionary perspective to examine if immune/inflammatory profiles that are specific to resisting infectious disease, such as malaria, and low vitamin D due to high skin pigmentation are related to more aggressive breast cancers. To our knowledge, these hypotheses have not been previously investigated, particularly in AA women. Together, our goals, approach these hypotheses and are highly innovative in hopes of shifting the current breast cancer research paradigm.