Athena’s mission is to save lives by transforming how we deliver care today, learn from our patients, create life-changing science, and improve prevention and treatment options tomorrow.

We deliver—based on each woman’s unique risk factors—personalized prevention, screening, and treatment for all 150,000 women receiving breast care at the University of California medical centers and their affiliates.

We learn by listening to these women. Their stories—their personal and medical histories—provide an unprecedented roadmap for research to improve their care.

We create high-impact, life-changing science that transforms our understanding of breast health by bringing together hundreds of researchers and medical providers to study these data and discover new prevention and treatment strategies.

We improve future care by translating these discoveries into unique prevention and treatment plans for each woman in real time—allowing us to offer best-in-class care today and even greater possibilities tomorrow.

Your story holds the cure – share it. Together, we write the next chapter.

We're in this Together

 Athena’s model is unique. We listen and learn from our patients and create life-changing science. Simply put, we are creating a framework that will allow our care providers to learn from all 150,000 of our patients, rather than just the women they see directly or those who participate in clinical trials. This means dedicating substantial resources to continuously analyzing our patients’ health situations and choices, as well as our own practices and performance. We believe this approach will help us learn what works best for each woman and will help shorten the time required to bring women more effective, innovative care options.

Our Care Tomorrow

We deliver better care tomorrow by translating these discoveries into unique prevention and treatment plans for each woman in real time. Leading researchers and physicians across the state are working together to develop and provide state-of-the-art breast cancer screening and treatment programs. Our team will monitor your health over time, incorporating what we learn into your care plan. Based on the latest knowledge in the field, we will be able to offer you more choices for your individual care. You will be offered the very latest options in medical care and access to promising new approaches through clinical trials. We will also partner with your primary care provider, so that together, we can assist you in better managing your health.

Our Care Today

 We deliver, based on each woman’s unique risk factors, personalized prevention, screening, and treatment. If you are coming in for breast screening at a participating medical center, you will be asked to complete an electronic health history questionnaire before your mammogram. We will provide you with a personalized risk assessment using the information provided on the questionnaire to guide your breast health plan. If you are identified as being at an elevated risk for breast cancer, you may be referred to additional resources, such as risk-reduction programs or genetic counseling.

Our Story Holds The Cure - Share It

 You will be offered the opportunity to securely share your questionnaire answers and to donate blood and/or saliva to share with Athena's research teams. Your name and other identifying information would be removed before it is shared. Athena's researchers and physicians will use this information to develop screening, treatment, and follow-up plans tailored to individual women's risk levels. If you choose not to participate in this part of the program, it will not affect your care.

Principal Investigator

Laura J. Esserman, M.D., M.B.A.

Dr. Esserman is the Director of the Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center at UC San Francisco, a professor of Surgery & Radiology at UCSF, and a practicing surgeon and breast cancer oncology specialist. She is the founder of the University of California-wide Athena Breast Health Network, a model learning system to integrate clinical care and research. She also leads the innovative clinical I-SPY TRIALs, which are designed to accelerate the identification and approval of novel agents for women with high risk cancers (find the right drug for the right person at the right time). She is an international breast cancer specialist, policy expert, innovator, and leader in building learning systems to improve patient care.


Alexander "Sandy" D. Borowsky, M.D.

Sandy Borowsky is a Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the Center for Comparative Medicine and the Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of California Davis. He learned diagnostic breast pathology at Vanderbilt where innovations in the 1980s led to the advancement of breast conserving therapy and then trained at Brigham/Harvard Medical School in molecular oncology. He is an expert in experimental models of DCIS and breast cancer and the development of innovative technologies for improved evidence based diagnostics.

Arash Naeim, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Naeim is the Chief Medical Officer for Clinical Research, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research, and Associate Director of the Clinical Translational Science Institute at UCLA. He is Director of Informatics for the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and Director of Geriatric-Oncology for the Divisions of Geriatric Medicine and Hematology-Oncology. He has clinical training in both Geriatrics and Hematology-Oncology, as well as being boarded in Clinical Informatics and a certified Epic Physician Builder. His primary research focus is on older cancer patients, the role of mobile technology, outcomes research, cost-effectiveness analysis, modeling of health and frailty, and clinical trial design. Dr. Naeim is the site principal investigator for the Athena Breast Network, and is leading the Wisdom Study in its approach to breast cancer screening for older patients who may be frail or pre-frail, as well as leading the patient-centered outcomes analysis for the trial.

Laura van ‘t Veer, Ph.D.

Dr. van 't Veer is a Professor of Laboratory Medicine, the Director of Applied Genomics, and the Program Leader for the Breast Oncology Program at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. She is the UCSFSite Principal Investigator of the Athena Breast Health Network. Dr. van ‘t Veer is a world renowned Molecular Biologist and inventor of MammaPrint®. Her research focuses on personalized medicine to advance patient management based on knowledge of the genetic make-up of the tumor and the genetic make-up of the patient. She received the second prize 2014 EU Women Innovator award and the 2015 European Inventor Award.

Hoda Anton-Culver, Ph.D.

Dr. Anton-Culver is a Professor and Chair of Epidemiology and the Founding Director of the Genetic Epidemiology Research Institute at UCI. During the past thirty-three years at UC Irvine, she has established major research programs in cancer epidemiology and cancer genetics. Under her leadership, the Department of Epidemiology and the Genetic Epidemiology Research Institute are currently engaged in conducting several research studies in cancer epidemiology funded by the National Cancer Institute and other agencies.

Barbara Parker, M.D.

Barbara A. Parker, M.D., is a clinical professor in Oncology as well as the Deputy Director of Clinical Affairs at Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health. She received her M.D. from Stanford University Medical School and her postgraduate training in both Internal Medicine and Medical Oncology from the University of California, San Diego. She has extensive experience in the management of breast cancer and other common cancers. Her top priority is to provide excellent patient care consisting of access to new therapies. Her research interests include new approaches for personalized screening and new agents for personalized therapy of breast cancer. 

Thomas M Cink M.D., F.A.C.R., F.C.C.P.

Dr. Cink is the site principal investigator of the Wisdom Study for the Sanford system. He is a board certified diagnostic radiologist and has been involved with breast cancer screening and diagnosis for his whole career. He finished his fellowship in 1991 and has been the Medical Director of the Edith Sanford Breast Center since that time. He has been extensively involved in education and research and most recently he has been a founding member of the Tomosynthesis Collaborative Group, a multi-institutional team researching and publishing on the utilization of breast Tomosynthesis.