Jessica Miller, PhD, awarded Susan G. Komen grant to study breast cancer-related chronic pain

 Jessica A. Miller, PhD, has been awarded a three-year, $450,000 Susan G. Komen grant to investigate the cause of chronic joint stiffness and pain associated with the use of aromatase inhibitors (AI) — a class of drug often used to treat hormone receptor-positive breast cancer.

Breast cancer patients currently on an AI and the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) sulindac will be studied to determine the causes of joint pain and ways to reduce this side effect in order to increase adherence to the use of AIs. This study will take place as part of an ongoing clinical trial at the University of Arizona Cancer Center.

Dr. Miller’s study, “Application of lipidomics to a sulindac intervention of pain,” will help guide future research that will identify molecular targets of pain for the ultimate goal of improving AI adherence and reducing death from breast cancer. Sulindac is thought to have a better safety profile than other NSAIDs, and Dr. Miller’s work aims to understand the individual metabolic response to sulindac that may explain why.

“Sometimes, joint pain can be incredibly debilitating for these patients,” said Dr. Miller. “As many as 30 percent of breast cancer patients stop taking their aromatase inhibitors because of this pain, which can lead to recurrence. This grant will help me study the mechanism that determines whether a patient will benefit from sulindac to help manage pain during treatment.”

Dr. Miller is an assistant research professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Arizona. She completed the UACC’s Cancer Prevention and Control Postdoctoral Training Fellowship Program in 2013 and is among the UACC’s most active breast cancer chemoprevention researchers.

“As a young investigator, it can be challenging to get funding when I’m submitting my applications against more senior scientists with long track records,” Dr. Miller said. “Awards such as these, designated specifically for young investigators, are so important so we can develop our own track record.”

This grant brings Komen’s total research investment in Arizona to more than $4.1 million since 1982. Dr. Miller is one of more than 50 early-career breast cancer researchers to receive a Komen award this year.

“Our 2014 grants are intended to ensure continuity in breast cancer research for years to come,” said Komen President and CEO Judith A. Salerno, MD, MS. “With federal research dollars tightening, we’re deeply concerned that a generation of promising breast cancer researchers will be lost to other fields.”


About The University of Arizona Cancer Center

The University of Arizona Cancer Center is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center headquartered in Arizona. The UACC is supported by NCI Cancer Center Support Grant number CA023074. With primary locations at the University of Arizona in Tucson and at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, the Cancer Center has more than a dozen research and education offices in Phoenix and throughout the state and 300 physician and scientist members work together to prevent and cure cancer. For more information, go to

About Susan G. Komen®

Susan G. Komen is the world’s largest breast cancer organization, funding more breast cancer research than any other nonprofit while providing real-time help to those facing the disease. Since its founding in 1982, Komen has funded over $847 million in research and provided $1.8 billion in funding to screening, education, treatment and psychosocial support programs serving millions of people in more than 30 countries worldwide. Komen was founded by Nancy G. Brinker, who promised her sister, Susan G. Komen, that she would end the disease that claimed Suzy’s life. Visit or call 1-877 GO KOMEN.

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