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Kindergartners Give to Two Sister Study

By Eddy Ball
September 2009

Two Sister Study Breast Cancer Research logo

Clare Weinburg, Ph.D. and Dale Sandler, Ph.D.
Weinberg, left, and Sandler are shown in January 2008 when the Two Sister Study launched.
(Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

This summer NIEHS Director Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., received a donation for the Two Sister Study ( Exit NIEHS from a kindergarten class at Coleytown Elementary School in Westport, Conn. It wasn't a big check by medical research standards, but the love and devotion behind the gift may make it one of the most memorable donations the study ever received.

The children in Lesa Tischler's 2008-2009 kindergarten class at Coleytown wanted to give their teacher an end-of-the-year gift. They and their parents collected a total of $250, and Tischler requested that the money be sent in her name as a donation to the Two Sister Study directed by Principal Investigator Clare Weinberg, Ph.D., and Co-Principal Investigator Dale Sandler, Ph.D.

Funded in large part by a grant from Susan G. Komen for the Cure ( Exit NIEHS, the Two Sister Study was launched ( in 2008 as an extension of the original Sister Study. It is recruiting about 2,000 women who developed breast cancer before age 50 and are sisters of the 50,000 women already enrolled in the Sister Study ( Exit NIEHS.

As Weinberg explained, "This study will use a family approach to elucidate the combined roles of genes and environmental factors in causing young-onset breast cancer, and influencing the long-term prognosis and general health of women following treatment for breast cancer."

Tischler is a popular member of the Coleytown faculty. Carolyn Jumper, author of the letter to Birnbaum and one of the parents who collected the money, described her son's teacher as "truly fabulous." In a bi-monthly "On the Home Front" column in the Westport News, Coleytown Elementary appeared as the first item of a list of reasons "Why We are Thankful to be in Westport" - with a special note of appreciation for Tischler and colleague Lori Buskey, "who give more of themselves every day than any parent could hope for."

In her thank-you note to Jumper, Weinberg said she was "moved... and also honored myself that our study was selected by you and the generous families of these young students." In closing, she promised, "We will be sure to put your donation to good use in supporting our ongoing research on young-onset breast cancer."

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