UICC and Pfizer announce the next phase of the SPARC grants initiative

2015 SPARC awardees at the 2016 World Cancer Congress
6 March 2017

Pfizer commits funding to continue SPARC MBC Challenge grants partnership with UICC - supporting breast cancer patients - bringing total funding to more than $1.3 Million (USD).

Geneva, Switzerland, 8 March 2017 – In conjunction with International Women’s Day, the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) and Pfizer Inc. today announced the next phase of their pioneering grants initiative to address the unique challenges facing metastatic breast cancer (mBC) patients around the globe. The Seeding Progress and Resources for the Cancer Community (SPARC): Metastatic Breast Cancer Challenge was designed to support the implementation of projects that address the specific needs of women with metastatic breast cancer globally - many of which extend beyond treatment. This is of particular importance as more than an estimated 1.6 million women are diagnosed with breast cancer globally each year1 and breast cancer incidence rates are increasing especially in low- and middle-income countries where the majority of cases are diagnosed in late stages2

The SPARC MBC Challenge, launched in 2015, awarded $760,000 (USD) in funding to 20 organisations in 18 countries to support projects that are making an impact in developed and low- and middle-income countries across the globe. Through the renewal of this initiative, Pfizer will provide a second grant in the amount of $530,000 (USD) to UICC that will support up to 20 additional mBC-specific programmes as well as the continuation of select ongoing SPARC projects.

2015 SPARC awardees at the 2016 World Cancer Congress
2015 SPARC awardees at the 2016 World Cancer Congress in Paris

UICC and its members are delighted to continue working with our partner Pfizer on this first-of-its-kind programme,” said Cary Adams, Chief Executive Officer of UICC. “We look forward to marking International Women’s Day on 8 March by asking groups worldwide to propose projects that will close the gaps between metastatic breast cancer and early breast cancer awareness and support.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide1. While the majority of women are diagnosed early, in developed countries up to one-third of women diagnosed with early breast cancer will go on to develop metastatic disease3,4 while 5-10% of women present with metastatic disease at initial diagnosis5. This initiative aims to bring the global oncology community together to build on collective experiences and knowledge, and work toward providing all metastatic breast cancer patients with access to the types of resources they need for their care, no matter where they live.

To date, the impact of the SPARC MBC Challenge has been significant and far-reaching, helping metastatic breast cancer patients around the world with diverse backgrounds, needs and aspirations. Since launch, grantees have reached thousands of mBC patients with their programmes and created hundreds of new patient resources in more than 20 languages,” said Liz Barrett, president and general manager, Pfizer Oncology. “We are committed to expanding this bold initiative with UICC with the aim of further improving the outlook for these patients and fostering an environment where they feel validated and supported.

The recipients of the 2017 grants will have the opportunity to benefit from mentorship and best-practice sharing from the 2015 awardees. This includes organisations like Instituto Oncoguia, a non-profit that recently launched Network Plus Life (Rede + Vida), bringing together metastatic breast cancer patients from different regions of Brazil for training on how to provide support and information to other metastatic breast cancer patients, as well as the Butaro Cancer Center of Excellence (BCCOE) in Rwanda, which created its first support group for rural women battling metastatic disease.

Apply now for a SPARC grant

Organisations with a desire to focus on supporting metastatic breast cancer patients are invited to submit proposals. Recipients will be announced in October 2017.


For more information on the SPARC MBC Challenge and the submission criteria, please visit: www.uicc.org/SPARC.

Media contacts

Leah Peyton (UICC)
+44 208 392 8041
+44 7788 191 434
Sally Beatty (Pfizer)
+1 (212) 733-6566

About the Seeding Progress and Resources for the Cancer Community (SPARC): Metastatic Breast Cancer Challenge

The SPARC MBC Challenge aims to address critical issues for people at risk of, or living with metastatic breast cancer. An independent, external steering committee, consisting of leading experts in the fields of cancer care and advocacy on behalf of metastatic breast cancer patients and chaired by globally renowned oncologist and leading breast cancer advocate, Dr Fatima Cardoso, will award grants to organisations globally in support of programme s that address the following challenges in metastatic breast cancer:

  • Close the gap on patient communication and navigation of care options;
  • Raise awareness of the specific needs and challenges that face women with metastatic breast cancer;
  • Ensure metastatic breast cancer is embedded in national breast cancer policies; or
  • Reduce the incidence of metastatic breast cancer at diagnosis.

About the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC)

UICC is the largest international cancer-fighting organisation, with over 1,000 member organisations across 163 countries representing the world's major cancer societies, ministries of health, research institutes, treatment centres and patient groups. The organisation is dedicated to taking the lead in convening, capacity building and advocacy initiatives that unite the cancer community to reduce the global cancer burden, promote greater equity, and integrate cancer control into the world health and development agenda. 

UICC and its multisectoral partners are committed to encouraging governments to look towards the implementation and scale-up of quality and sustainable programmes that address the global burden of cancer and other NCDs. UICC is also a founding member of the NCD Alliance, a global civil society network that now represents almost 2,000 organisations in 170 countries.

For more information, please visit: www.uicc.org

About Pfizer Oncology

Pfizer Oncology is committed to pursuing innovative treatments that have a meaningful impact on those living with cancer. As a leader in oncology speeding cures and accessible breakthrough medicines to patients, Pfizer Oncology is helping to redefine life with cancer. Our strong pipeline of biologics, small molecules and immunotherapies, one of the most robust in the industry, is studied with precise focus on identifying and translating the best scientific breakthroughs into clinical application for patients across a wide range of cancers. By working collaboratively with academic institutions, individual researchers, cooperative research groups, governments and licensing partners, Pfizer Oncology strives to cure or control cancer with its breakthrough medicines. Because Pfizer Oncology knows that success in oncology is not measured solely by the medicines you manufacture, but rather by the meaningful partnerships you make to have a more positive impact on people’s lives. Learn more about how Pfizer Oncology is applying innovative approaches to improve the outlook for people living with cancer at http://www.pfizer.com/research/therapeutic_areas/oncology.

1GLOBOCAN. 2012 Breast Cancer Incidence and Mortality Worldwide. Available at: http://globocan.iarc.fr/Pages/fact_sheets_cancer.aspx. Accessed January 10, 2017.

2World Health Organization. Breast cancer: prevention and control. http://www.who.int/cancer/detection/breastcancer/en/index1.html. Accessed January 10, 2017.

3O'Shaughnessy J. Extending survival with chemotherapy in metastatic breast cancer. Oncologist. 2005;10:20-29.

4Dowsett M, et al. Early Breast Cancer Trialists’ Collaborative Group (EBCTCG). Aromatase inhibitors versus tamoxifen in early breast cancer: patient-level meta-analysis of the randomised trials. Lancet. 2015;386(10001):1341-1352.

5Cardoso F, Costa A, Norton L, et al. 1st International consensus guidelines for advanced breast cancer (ABC 1). Breast. 2012;21(3):242-252.

Last update: 
Friday 7 June 2019