Skip to Main Content


Lion Heart: an enduring supporter of breast cancer research at Yale

December 09, 2021

In 2022, Lion Heart, a foundation dedicated to supporting breast cancer research at Yale, will celebrate awarding its 10th series of breast cancer research grants to support Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital. These grants, funded by money raised by Lion Heart team members, support breakthrough research with the goal of curing breast cancer. Since its inception, the team has raised over $1,400,000.

Lion Heart, founded and led by Kathleen van Rijn, conducts fundraising events throughout the year, culminating at a celebratory walk and dinner in New York City. This year, the walk and dinner were held on September 25th and in attendance were former grantees, Dr. Rachel Perry and Dr. Jesse Rinehart, who presented their research to the Lion Hearts, as well as other faculty members from The Breast Center at Smilow Cancer Hospital.

“We receive applications for research grants from Yale Cancer Center researchers looking for pilot funding to begin interesting new avenues of exploration. Our funding has the potential to aid breakthrough research and truly make a difference,” said Kathleen.

Grantees for 2021 were Franziska Bleichert, PhD, “Targeting DNA Replication Initiation for Cancer Therapy,” and Shangqin Guo, PhD, “Activating MKL1/SRF Pathway to Target Breast Cancer Metastasis.”

On December 1st, the Lion Heart Grant Committee met and selected the 2022 Lion Heart Grantees: Mariya Rozenblit, MD, “Epigenetic Age Acceleration as a Predictor of Breast Cancer Risk,” and Judit Jimenez Sainz, PhD, “DNA Repair Dysfunction Induced by Altered BRCA2 Localization."

2021 was a special year for Lion Heart, as it celebrated its 15th anniversary! This year’s walk and dinner was its largest and most successful. Lion Heart surpassed its fundraising goal of $100,000, but they aren’t finished. Donations are accepted until mid-December. To learn more and make a donation, please visit

Submitted by Emily Montemerlo on December 09, 2021