2022 Alison's Allies Project

The 2022 Alison’s Allies project  will focus on breast cancer research.  Alison's Allies is partnering with the KU Cancer Center and KU Medical Center.  The goal of the 2022 project is to support a pilot research project.   Pilot research studies, fundamental to the research process,  are lack funding sources.  Pilot research projects help to define the research question(s) and test the proposed study design and processes allowing researchers to seek additional funding and move to clinical trials. Please consider joining Alison’s Allies to support breast cancer research which will impact breast cancer screening, diagnosis, and treatment tomorrow!

Together, we can make a difference!

Alison’s Allies 2022 Project

Funding a pilot research project spearheaded by

Dr. Joan Lewis-Wambi

Through this research project, Dr. Lewis-Wambi’s lab will study the ‘signaling pathways’ that promote TNBC aggressiveness in African American patients and identify biomarkers for early detection. 

Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is a highly aggressive subtype of breast cancer that accounts for 20-25% of all diagnosed cases.  It occurs more frequently in younger women and is more prevalent in African American women. Unfortunately, African American women with TNBC are diagnosed at more advanced stages and have a 40% higher mortality rate compared to other racial groups.

Ultimately, this research project will enhance scientists understanding of TNBC which will lead to better detection, treatments, & cures!

Hear from Dr. Lewis-Wambi! 


Title: Tenured Associate Professor in Cancer Biology Department at KU Medical Center & a primary member of KU Cancer Center

Professional Background

Dr. Lewis-Wambi has worked in the breast cancer field for over 15. The focus of her lab is to understand the mechanism(s) by which breast cancer cells and breast tumors develop resistance to endocrine therapies and to develop alternative therapies for breast cancer patients. She uses various methods uncover the molecular underpinnings that drive resistance in breast cancer patients. Her lab also studies triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) and inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) which are two aggressive & lethal subtypes of breast cancer that are difficult to diagnose, treat, and disproportionately affect African American (AA) women compared to other ethnic groups. She has discovered a novel marker called interferon induced transmembrane protein 1 (IFITM1) that plays a critical role in promoting the aggressiveness of TNBC. Dr. Lewis-Wambi has published 45 research articles and she has received several honors/awards including the NIH Young Investigator Award, Avon Scholar, Susan G. Komen Scholar, WIMS-AAMC Scholar Award, and the KUMC Rising Star Scholar. Her research has been funded by grants from NIH, ACS, and the Department of Defense-BCRP.

Education and Training

Personal Snapshot:


The 2022 Alison’s Allies fundraising reached it's $15,000 goal! This allows us to take advantage of the $15,000 match from the KU Cancer Biology dept. for a 2nd breast cancer research project.  Thank you Dr. Sufi Thomas, co-leader of the KU Cancer Biology Department for creating the match so that another breast cancer pilot project could be funded! 

𝑹𝒆𝒔𝒆𝒂𝒓𝒄𝒉=𝑯𝑶𝑷𝑬 for the future!



The 2022 Alison’s Allies fundraising was a monumental successIn fact, the collected amount was DOUBLE the original $15,000 goal! Because of the generosity of 100s, we SURPASSED our goal, raising nearly $30,000! Dr. Roy Jensen, Vice-ChancelorDirector of the KU Cancer Center, suggested a 2nd pilot research project.  The 2nd project is spearheaded by  Dr. Lauren Nye and Dr. Shane Stecklein.  Their research, called the ELLIES Project, is studying the impact of metabolic risk on BRCA1 carriers. The project is advancing preliminary research Dr. Nye & Dr. Stecklein have been conducting. They are also seeking a matching grant from the KU Cancer Center Spring Pilot Project grant.  The bios for Dr. Nye and Dr. Stecklein 

After all,  𝑹𝒆𝒔𝒆𝒂𝒓𝒄𝒉=𝑯𝑶𝑷𝑬 for the future!

𝑰𝒔 𝒚𝒐𝒖𝒓 𝒅𝒐𝒏𝒂𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏 𝒕𝒐 𝑨𝒍𝒊𝒔𝒐𝒏'𝒔 𝑨𝒍𝒍𝒊𝒆𝒔 𝒎𝒂𝒌𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒂 𝒅𝒊𝒇𝒇𝒆𝒓𝒆𝒏𝒄𝒆? The answer a resounding=𝙔𝙀𝙎! https://youtu.be/1kMx3VgEJ3Q

In June 2023, Alison had the opportunity to visit both Dr. Joan Lewis-Wambi's lab and Dr. Shane Stecklein & Dr. Lauren Nye's lab. The question? 

𝑰𝒔 𝒚𝒐𝒖𝒓 𝒅𝒐𝒏𝒂𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏 𝒕𝒐 𝑨𝒍𝒊𝒔𝒐𝒏'𝒔 𝑨𝒍𝒍𝒊𝒆𝒔 𝒎𝒂𝒌𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒂 𝒅𝒊𝒇𝒇𝒆𝒓𝒆𝒏𝒄𝒆? The answer a resounding=𝙔𝙀𝙎

Watch the video 

highlighting the visit! 

Marlena Caldwell was the face of Alison's Allies during the 2022 fundraising campaign. I met Marlena when she was an educator in the Olathe School District.  Marlena had to retire early because she has Schogrin's, a lung disease. Marlena is also a Invasive Ductal Carcinoma breast cancer survivor.  Marlena tells her story in these video clips: