Ten years ago the NCI published an Executive Summary stating that it is “clear that a more complete understanding of the normal mammary gland...will be a critical underpinning of continued advances in detecting, preventing and treating breast cancer.” A deterrent to obtaining this understanding has been the difficulty basic scientists have in involving normal women in their research. The Love/Avon Army of Women, is a “just in time” tissue and data resource launched to give researchers access to the samples/data they need in an attempt to accelerate research into the cause and prevention of breast cancer.


The Dr Susan Love Research Foundation piloted the concept of a “just in time” database in Southern California recruiting over 700 women who were willing to consider participating in clinical research. As new studies arise the women are informed and if appropriate decide whether to participate. In 2006, we expanded our pilot when we agreed to partner with Texas Tech University in a study titled “Analysis of Parity-Induced Protection in Human Breast and Serum.” Initially the PI planned to do research in an animal model because he felt it would be impossible to obtain blood and breast core needle biopsies from 44 women each year, 11 who had their first child before 25, 11 women who had their first child after 35 and 22 age-matched nulliparous controls. By accessing our registry of healthy women and reaching out to other less-traditional communities, such as nuns and lesbians, we have been able to collect all the specimens to date for the study. The Avon Foundation has also been able to recruit volunteers at their Walks for other Avon grants. These experiences led us to launch this joint venture, the Love/Avon Army of Women, to extend this experience to any scientist who needs it.


Starting Oct 1, 2008 one million women will be recruited from around the country who are willing to participate in clinical research. They will sign up on a website with minimal information. Scientists who need access to human breast tissue, ductal fluid, urine, saliva or blood as well as those collecting data for epidemiology studies will contact the AOW through the website. Once a grant has been awarded by an outside funder, the research will be reviewed for appropriateness for the AOW. Then an eblast will go out to all members of the AOW describing the study, the criteria for participation as well as what will be involved. Women will self select and RSVP to the AOW. After undergoing a secondary screen they will either be referred to the researcher directly or to an Army center where the appropriate data and specimens will be collected according to the specifications of the scientist. All scientists will be required to participate in a webcast with all the women who have responded to explain the research question and how this study will move us forward in finding the cause and prevention of breast cancer. Again, after the study has been completed the researcher will report back to the participating women the overall findings of the study via webcast. This will ensure a partnership between the women and the researchers in moving towards the goal of eradicating breast cancer.


The Love/Avon Army of Women is a novel resource for breast cancer scientists to obtain exactly the type of specimens they need when they need it. This new partnership between women and scientists can revolutionize research and accelerate efforts to eradicate breast cancer.

Citation Information: Cancer Prev Res 2008;1(7 Suppl):B23.

Seventh AACR International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research-- Nov 16-19, 2008; Washington, DC