The National Institute of Health awarded a 5-year, $3.4 million grant to Dr. Mia Markey, a professor in UT's Biomedical Engineering Department, and other researchers to improve breast reconstruction.

The team will create a surgical database of the outcomes of past patients, plus they'll use personalized simulations of what women will look like after reconstruction.

"There has been maybe more attention on the breast cancer detection end versus survivorship issues and quality of life consideration. This is a great opportunity for breast cancer research," Markey said.

Breast Cancer survivors like Denise DeMartino feel this is a step forward to surviving the disease.

DeMartino, a Westlake teacher, was diagnosed with Stage 3 Breast Cancer last year. A part of DeMartino's recovery was her decision to undergo Breast Reconstruction surgery in July. After having both breasts removed, doctors took skin and fat from DeMartino's stomach to reconstruct her breast.

"I think it's really important for women who are diagnosed to know that's also a part of it. The sooner you can get in touch with someone to see you and help you in the aesthetics and how well it will be at the end," DeMartino said.

DeMartino is cancer free and she hopes more projects like this will help in breast cancer research. UT is in its first year of the reconstruction project.