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Research Is Our Reason

Posted by Adele Poudrier on

Together, we have donated more than $34.6 million to critical, life-saving breast cancer research since 1993. At the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer, these funds have sparked life-saving ideas that impacted breast cancer treatment and therapies around the globe. 


This National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we are so proud to introduce you to the team leading the incredible work at the Vera Bradley Foundation Center for Breast Cancer Research at Indiana University in Indianapolis. These specialists are achieving better outcomes for patients through prevention and early detection, novel drug and treatment development, and improvement of long-term therapies. With a dynamic and determined drive to change the world, our researchers always have so many new advancements to share. 


Tarah Ballinger, M.D.

A lifelong athlete with a passion for wellness, Dr. Ballinger is inspired to help women maintain and increase strength during and after breast cancer treatment. Her research is centered around improving quality of life through physical activity and exercise. 

“I think it's so important for us as researchers and as physicians to not just help patients get through their breast cancer, but to keep on living well after.”


Xiongbin Lu, Ph.D.

Dr. Lu leads research in understanding cancer biology and pinpointing new treatments and therapies. He is currently developing innovative nano-scale drugs to treat triple negative breast cancer.
“We have been working on cancer genomics, precision medicine, cancer immunotherapy, and even nano-medicine. We have already made great progress in each of these fields, and I believe that with our efforts we can really make a big impact in the future.”

Kandice Ludwig, M.D.

Dr. Ludwig is a breast surgeon focusing on high-risk screening and prevention. She loves developing long-term relationships with her patients and getting to see the impact of the leaps and bounds in breast cancer treatment achieved through the Center’s work.

“One of the great things about working with the Foundation is it really allows us to work as a team. Team collaboration is not just sending emails — we're all seeing patients, side-by-side."

Kathy Miller, M.D.

Leading internationally renowned breast cancer clinical trials, Dr. Miller intends to create a world without worry of breast cancer. She currently directs a national study on new forms of mammography, working to enhance the comfort and effectiveness of breast imaging.

"The Vera Bradley Center creates a tremendously vibrant research community that allows ideas to be tested and dreams to flourish."

Harikrishna Nakshatri, Ph.D.

Researching to answer  how each woman's genetics influences her breast cancer journey, Dr. Nakshatri is uprooting the assumption that African American women have worse outcomes because of poor access to quality care. He's saving lives by proving instead that differences in tissue might actually be to blame.

"We are making difference by thinking of bold ideas, out of the blue ideas. Because of the Foundation, we can move out of our comfort zone and try new things."

Bryan Schneider, M.D.

Dr. Schneider has discovered landmarks in treating triple negative breast cancer, including how to better predict whether the disease will recur. Currently, he's leading a national study that is expected to dramatically reduce treatment toxicity for African American women.

"When we see someone donating, we understand the care they give in doing that. We are eternally grateful that they believe in us.”

Todd Skaar, Ph.D.

With research focusing on the genomics of breast cancer, Dr. Skaar has changed the way women receive treatment. He has identified a genetic marker that causes severe toxicity in certain patients from a common treatment drug — meaning caregivers across the U.S. can now pinpoint the best therapies for individual cases.

"The only way we're going to defeat this disease is through additional research. It doesn't just happen on its own. It takes money. It takes support."

Anna Maria Storniolo, M.D.

Dr. Storniolo works for a world without breast cancer and studies the earliest stages of development to prevent the disease from happening completely. She has established the world's only bank of normal breast tissue, blood and data to better understand the genetics of breast cancer.  


"I tell people, 'We really are close to fixing this.' I really believe it and they have to believe it. Every day is a gift."

Elizabeth Yeh, Ph.D.

Focusing on triple negative breast cancer, Dr. Yeh has discovered a molecule critical in the growth and spread of breast cancer. Now, she's screening FDA-approved drugs to determine if a therapy exists to block the molecule completely.

"As we research we think about the patients fighting this disease every single day. Because of them, our work has purpose."

Our research team is making progress each and every day, and you can help. Learn more about the many ways you can help support the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer at