Help Find a Cure for Breast Cancer

by Lynn Sage Breast Cancer Foundation
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Help Find a Cure for Breast Cancer
Help Find a Cure for Breast Cancer
Help Find a Cure for Breast Cancer
Help Find a Cure for Breast Cancer
Help Find a Cure for Breast Cancer
Help Find a Cure for Breast Cancer
Help Find a Cure for Breast Cancer
Lynn Sage Foundation Board Members
Lynn Sage Foundation Board Members

We are beyond thrilled to announce the Lynn Sage Cancer Research Foundation and the Lynn Sage Foundation have come together to form one new entity, the Lynn Sage Breast Cancer Foundation on January 1, 2021.

Our new organization will benefit from the legacies of the former organizations' success, and aims to appeal to the next generation of donors to maximize funding and increase awareness about screening, treatments and eradicating breast cancer.

"These two organizations are a powerhouse of combined strength, rooted in 35 years of success, passion and hard work. My family is humbled that my mother's name will continue well into the future and contribute to this cause.”  - Laura Sage, Co-Chair of the Lynn Sage Breast Cancer Foundation

Both organizations funded progress in the field of breast cancer. Beyond raising a combined $40M over 35 years, the Lynn Sage Scholars program resulted in follow-on funding more than six times the initial investment. And, the Lynn Sage Breast Cancer Symposium, which celebrates its 23rd annual event this year, is a world renowned event for doctors to collaborate on cutting-edge approaches to treatment.

The IL Department of Health estimates Chicago's 2018 breast cancer screening rate was 82.8 percent, surpassing both the Department of Health and Human Services and the National Cancer Institute targets. "We believe that thirty-five years of raising awareness and funding research in Chicago has supported that achievement," Ms. Sage continued.

“My mother's friend, Lynn Sage, left her daughters far too early. Our mission is to raise funds for research and education that will improve outcomes for individuals with breast cancer, so that no mother leaves a child behind too early because of this disease.” - Meredith Soren Freese, Co-chair of the Lynn Sage Breast Cancer Foundation

The process of combining the organizations began in the spring of 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic reinforced the determination to increase effectiveness by operating as one entity. While fundraising in the current pandemic environment is challening, it is estimated that more than 300,000 women in the US will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020. Progress against this disease must continue, and safe screening and treatment cannot stop during this challening time.

Your support for breast cancer research helps improve the lives of all those diagnosed with breast cancer, no matter their age, race or gender - thank you!

About Lynn Sage Breast Cancer Foundation

The Lynn Sage Breast Cancer Foundation raises funds for research and medical education to prevent breast cancer and improve survivorship for individuals diagnosed with breast cancer. Investments are directed locally within the Chicago area, but drive impact globally. For more information visit us online at or follow us on our social handles:

Instagram @lynnsagebreastcancer

Facebook @lynnsagebreastcancerfoundation

Twitter @lynnsage

Lynn Sage Cancer Research Foundation Board Members
Lynn Sage Cancer Research Foundation Board Members


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Dr. Ji's Lab Presentation
Dr. Ji's Lab Presentation

In 2004, when Dr. Ji was a sophomore in college, his mother was unexpectedly diagnosed with bone cancer.  At the time, he was majoring in biotechnology.  He knew cancers undergo uncontrolled cell proliferation but almost nothing else.  His father located the best doctors in the field in China.  However, therapeutic strategies that could help treat his mother did not yet exist.  Sadly, the cancer moved quickly and she passed away about 8 months later.

“I felt frustrated as a student who majored in biology, but couldn’t help much. This family tragedy made me determined to be a cancer researcher,” Dr. Ji explains.

Once he decided to become a scientist, he set his mind to study in the US.  He felt the US had the most advanced graduate programs in science education.  Dr. Ji entered Rutgers University to study computational genomics and the regulation of RNA processing. He realized success early on and published several impactful papers in the field.

 “I felt strongly that I could pursue an academic research career and make an impact,” Dr. Ji recalls.


Focusing on Breast Cancer

For his postdoctoral studies, he applied to various cancer research laboratories.  Ultimately, he picked a joint position in the laboratories of Dr. Struhl at Harvard Medical School and Dr. Regev at the Broad Institute of MIT.

“I was lucky to gain complimentary expertise in computational biology, molecular biology, and cancer biology,” he remembers.

Although Dr. Ji’s work today is primarily computational, he used his training in molecular biology to establish a hybrid lab in computational and experimental biology.

“This setting allows us to approach biological questions in a unique and innovative way.”

It was in Dr. Struhl’s lab, studying gene regulation in breast oncogenic transformations, where Dr. Ji decided to study breast cancer.  With breast cancers there are more established cancer models and greater existing knowledge compared to other cancers.  Leveraging data from thousands of cancer cell lines and patient samples is key for the success of Dr. Ji’s computational analyses.  Eventually, he believes his research will have a wider application.

“I think our research outcomes will not be restricted to breast cancers,” notes Dr. Ji.  “We will also identify how the molecular mechanisms learned from our breast cancer models are involved in other cancer types.”

The Path to Lynn Sage Scholar

Then with his training complete, Dr. Ji joined Northwestern University in 2018, as an Assistant Professor in Pharmacology and Biomedical Engineering.  However, establishing a bioinformatics laboratory wasn’t easy to achieve.  Most conventional cancer funding mechanisms prefer hypothesis-driven research, which focuses on one or two pathways.   It is more challenging to secure funding for his data-driven, forward-looking approach.  It is even harder when you are unproven, in the early stage of your career.

"The Lynn Sage Scholar award provides us with a very valuable resource to carry out a bold genomics project, characterizing the metastatic landscape of breast cancers,” he commented.  In the first year of this project, his team generated large-scale genomic sequencing datasets. This unbiased data lays the foundation for his functional studies. By analyzing the data, his lab generated several specific hypotheses, which the team will focus on this year.  These results also provide the basis to apply for larger, more meaningful grants.

Measuring success for his research is layered.  While he always strives to make impactful scientific findings and develop novel solutions for cancer, his first priority is to ensure a sustainable research program.   Unfortunately, without funding, scientific research can not progress.  Dr. Ji also hopes to provide valuable training to his research assistants, so they can develop scientific discoveries of their own.

“I believe basic science research is the only hope to resolve many human diseases.  In recent years, there have been many breakthroughs in cancer research and therapies. All trace back to advances first made in basic scientific research,” he notes.

It is this belief and his mother’s memory that drive Dr. Ji each day.  “My mother’s experience with cancer always motivates me to work hard on my research.” 

During October, many of our thoughts center on friends and family that have faced, or are fighting, breast cancer. We need your support to continue funding the future discoveries of Lynn Sage Scholars like Dr. Ji. Please consider giving during October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, to The Lynn Sage Foundation in support of all men and women facing a breast cancer diagnosis.


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Anna grew up going to the Chicago Marathon as a spectator with her mom and siblings.  When she decided to run the marathon in 2019, it was clear Anna would run to benefit breast cancer research because she had also grown up with breast cancer.

“Due to the groundbreaking research of foundations like Lynn Sage Foundation, my mom lived 17 more years after her initial diagnosis. That was seventeen MORE years of wonderful memories together,” Anna proudly notes. “I’ll always be grateful for the science and research that allowed my mom to see me grow up and to see me complete my first marathonone of her favorite Chicago activities!”

Anna, the youngest of five children, was 8 years old when her mom, Sheila, was first diagnosed with breast cancer.  Her parents chose to be positive.  They never let cancer be a scary, looming, dark cloud in their life.  No matter how sick her mom was, she was always ready to beat Anna at Candyland.

“I’ve learned that cancer doesn’t have to stop the fun of life.  No battle can stop you from living your best life, including something as frightening as cancer,” she reflects.

As Anna and her siblings grew into teenagers and adults, they recognized it was time to step up and help take care of their mom. They took her to appointments and sat with her during chemo. They found that among adversity also lies the opportunity to grow stronger.  Working together and taking turns, they could persevere with a positive spirit just as their mom always had.

“We learned that no matter how difficult the storm seems, you can always smile and take a baby step forward,” she comments.

Anna didn’t expect her mom to be present at the marathon.  Sheila was in a wheelchair and not leaving the house much.  But Sheila wouldn’t let cancer stop the joy of watching her daughter complete her first marathon.  Not only did she make it to the race, she traveled to see Anna in THREE different locations.  AND, she made it out for a celebratory drink afterward.

A delighted Anna notes “Marathon day 2019 was truly one of the best days of my life.  I felt so grateful she was there. My mom was and still is my best friend.” 

Sheila had a special talent for making everyone she met feel so loved, as if they were her best friend. Sadly, she succumbed to breast cancer in February of this year.  However, her infectious spirit will live through all her friends and loved ones.

Shortly after Sheila’s passing, Kevin, a friend of Anna’s and her sister Kara’s, decided to run the Chicago Marathon for Team Lynn Sage.  Kevin had run track throughout grade school, but had gotten away from running.  A half-marathon challenge from co-workers last year drove his competitive spirit, not only to compete, but to train to beat those co-workers.  (Of course he beat them by 10 minutes with a time of 1 hour and 53 minutes!!)  He quickly regained his love of running and entered more races.

“Running has been huge for me.  It’s very helpful to clear my head,“ Kevin says.

Since college, Kara’s friendship and then Anna’s have had a positive impact on Kevin.  When he decided it was time to tackle a full marathon, he wanted to support both a cause and people he really respected.  Through Sheila’s memory and the amazing, inspiring spirit she passed to her daughters, Kevin is motivated to crush both his time (under 4 hours) and fundraising goals.

“Even if they were to cancel the Chicago Marathon, I will be waking up that morning and running 26.2 miles somewhere!” declares Kevin.

On marathon day, Anna, Kara & Sheila’s spirit will be cheering him on with this sign:  You’re loving every, horrible, beautiful minute of this!  Go Kevin!




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The Sage Family
The Sage Family


Mother’s Day has always been a meaningful day for The Lynn Sage Foundation.  However, it isn't always easy.  For those, including co-Founders Laura and Halee Sage, who have lost their mother to breast cancer, it can be an incredibly difficult holiday.  This year, many of us will be away from the loved ones we usually celebrate with on Mother’s Day, our mother, sisters, daughters, surrogate mothers, and aunts.  If you have a loved one that has experienced breast cancer, we ask you to consider donating to The Lynn Sage Foundation in their honor this Mother’s Day. 


COVID-19 has changed each of our lives drastically.  However, it won’t stop breast cancer or other diseases from occurring.  The National Cancer Institute estimates the 276,480 women in the US will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year.  The need for private funding to progress cancer research remains high, at a time when the ability of nonprofits to fundraise has been greatly impaired by the effect of coronavirus. The Lynn Sage Foundation remains dedicated to investing in innovative research and supporting brilliant doctors working tirelessly to eradicate breast cancer. 


Our hearts go out to anyone that has been negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, whether in body, mind or spirit.  But, we also feel for everyone that has lost a loved one to breast cancer or that is currently experiencing breast cancer.  During this difficult time, if you are able, please consider contributing to improve the outcome of breast cancer for all current and future mothers. 


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Dr. Hibler
Dr. Hibler

What a wonderful world it would be if we could PREVENT breast cancer, instead of simply treat it.

The Lynn Sage Foundation is pleased to introduce Elizabeth Hibler, Ph.D. as the tenth Lynn Sage Scholar.  She has dedicated her career to the prevention of breast cancer, specifically studying the biological links between behavior and breast cancer risk.  Dr. Hibler is an Assistant Professor of Preventative Medicine in the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.  Her lab investigates precision prevention programs for high-risk individuals. 

High breast density is a common risk factor for breast cancer, as it can mask tumors on traditional mammography.  Studies show that high rates of physical activity are associated with lower breast density, however it is not clear why.  As a Lynn Sage Scholar, Dr. Hibler’s research program will examine the relationship between physical activity, DNA methylation (a biological process that indicates which genes are turned on and off) and breast density. 

This study will objectively measure the physical activity of a population of women with high and low breast density via device-based tracking.  Dr. Hibler will then assess the effect of physical activity on breast density looking for specific biological links.  The goal of her project is to identify molecular biomarkers to incorporate into breast cancer risk prediction models and to develop personalized plans of physical activity for breast cancer prevention. 

"I’m so excited to receive a Lynn Sage Scholar award,” comments Dr. Hibler.  “The support from this award will allow me to continue my research in understanding the epidemiology of high breast density as a risk factor for breast cancer.”

With this award, The Lynn Sage Foundation is excited to continue investing in innovative theories and further the understanding of how to prevent breast cancer.  Thank you for your generous support, which makes this award possible. 

Hibler Introduction
Hibler Introduction


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Organization Information

Lynn Sage Breast Cancer Foundation

Location: Chicago, IL - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @lynnsage
Project Leader:
Gret Luhrs
Chicago, IL United States
$112,303 raised of $1,000,000 goal
1,590 donations
$887,697 to go
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