The Catherine Peachey Fund Announces $100,000 Gift to University of Notre Dame Cancer Researcher

The Heroes Foundation announced today that the Catherine Peachey Fund has provided $100,000 to Dr. Laurie Littlepage at the Harper Cancer Research Institute at the University of Notre Dame to pursue her promising research on the mechanisms of cancer progression.

The Catherine Peachey Fund regularly supports researchers in Indiana who challenge the breast cancer treatment status quo. While it has granted more than $3.4 million to advance breast cancer research and care since 1994, this gift marks a particular milestone, said Program Manager Stephanie Lesher.

“The Peachey Fund has been engaged with University of Notre Dame researchers over the years through the Amelia Project and collaborations with Indiana University Principal Investigators, but this is the first time we are directly funding a Notre Dame project,” Lesher said.

Dr. Littlepage has been at the Harper Cancer Research Institute at Notre Dame since 2012 and is a Campbell Family Associate Professor focused on mechanisms of cancer progression in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

“I’m extremely excited and honored to be funded by the Catherine Peachey Fund. The funds will have such an impact on our breast cancer research. What they are doing through the Catherine Peachey Fund and the Heroes Foundation is outstanding, and we are all thrilled that Notre Dame can be part of your vision and impact,” Dr. Littlepage said.

Therapeutic resistance of metastatic tumors is responsible for 90 percent of deaths among breast cancer patients. Over many years and trials, scientists have developed therapeutics to stop this endpoint, but without the desired level of success.

The $100,000 gift makes it possible for Dr. Littlepage to pursue more success and start a new, long-awaited chapter in treatment breakthroughs.

“Inhibiting cancer’s ability to progress unchecked to metastatic disease is an endpoint worthy of funding when the researcher is recognized as capable and has the credentials that validate funding. Dr. Littlepage and her laboratory at Notre Dame represent that kind of opportunity to the Catherine Peachey Fund,” said Connie Rufenbarger, Catherine Peachey Fund Co-Founder.

Dr. Littlepage will use the $100,000 to procure a powerful dissection microscope, a microplate reader (used to detect various microscopic events in samples) and AQP7 knockout mice. These special mice have been genetically modified to deactivate the gene associated with the Aquaporin-7 protein.

Without funding for laboratory equipment, researchers like Dr. Littlepage can’t advance breast cancer research and treatment, thus preventing the possibility of reaching higher survival rates.

“One of the largest and most confining hurdles is funding to begin to explore a potential concept leading to important discoveries that can literally change the world. This is the Catherine Peachey Fund’s reason for existing and continuing to fund the search for progress and an end to cancer as we know it and experience it in our daily lives,” Rufenbarger says.

About the Harper Cancer Research Institute

The Mike and Josie Harper Cancer Research Institute (HCRI) is a novel collaboration between the University of Notre Dame and the Indiana University School of Medicine – South Bend. HCRI welcomes all investigators from the University of Notre Dame and Indiana University interested in addressing cancer-specific problems. For more, visit

About the Catherine Peachey Fund

The mission of the Catherine Peachey Fund is to promote advances in breast cancer research and treatment. Founded in 1994 in memory of Cathy Peachey, an Indiana Breast Cancer Coalition co-founder, it has provided financial support to research and programs that are best positioned to move from the bench to the clinic. The Catherine Peachey Fund is a member of the Heroes Foundation family. For more, visit

About the Heroes Foundation

The Heroes Foundation serves the Indiana cancer community by providing meaningful support to cancer patients, education to promote cancer prevention, and resources to advance research for a cure. The organization was co-founded by cancer survivor Vince Todd Jr. and his wife Cindy Todd in 2000. For more, visit