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Research — Athena Study

The Athena Breast Health Network was launched in 2009 to conduct the largest study of its kind intended to improve breast cancer detection, treatment and survivors' quality of life.

All five University of California health centers have agreed to play pivotal research and clinical roles in this complex, multiyear project intended to more efficiently merge related research, technology, financing and healthcare delivery to reduce the time needed to translate scientific research findings into direct patient care therapies.

It is expected that the resulting rich database of information gleaned from this major study will shape future breast cancer care in radical ways. This groundbreaking project will screen an initial 150,000 California women for breast cancer and follow them for decades through the five UC medical centers.

Ultimately, as many as 400,000 women are expected to participate in the network, named for the Greek goddess of wisdom. A multi-disciplinary group of researchers and physicians at UC Irvine, together with colleagues at the other UC health centers, will participate in this promising research effort.

The UC system is particularly well-positioned for a study of Athena's magnitude because its medical centers — associated with the Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco medical centers —  and their affiliates annually screen as many as 80,000 women for breast cancer and diagnose about 2,500 with the disease.

These enrollees provide us with information about health, lifestyle, diet, tobacco and drug use, environment, gynecological history and genetic risk of breast cancer. These data will be used to target prevention efforts. Women with breast cancer will be asked to join a "survivorship cohort," where researchers hope to identify best quality-of-life practices.

Originally launched in 2009, the Athena study is a University of California system-wide program, made possible with the generous support of an inaugural $4.8-million grant from the Safeway Foundation and a $5.3-million grant by the University of California.

Safeway, one of the largest food and drug retailers in North America, has continued to generously provide additional critical funding necessary to conduct the landmark Athena Study, research that will revolutionize breast cancer care for the future.

The Salesforce Foundation has similarly partnered with the Athena Breast Health Network to provide generous support of our important joint efforts., an enterprise cloud-computing company, is helping to revolutionize how organizations collaborate, communicate and share important information.

The University of California, as California's premiere public research university system, is a long-time supporter of efforts to increase breast cancer awareness, research and clinical care and is pleased to be joint partners with Safeway and in support of the Athena Breast Health Network's impact here in California and the nation. 

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