Major Lung Disease Research Initiatives | American Lung Association

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Major Lung Disease Research Initiatives

In order to extend our research impact to better support lung disease patients, the American Lung Association is continually seeking innovative ways to expand and enhance the impact of our research program. We have recently embarked on a number of exciting collaborations and partnerships to leverage available research funds and extend the impact of research findings.

Lung Cancer Interception Dream Team

The American Lung Association is excited to announce an important addition to our Lung Cancer Research portfolio. We are teaming up with Stand Up To Cancer and the LUNGevity Foundation to invest in a Stand Up To Cancer – LUNGevity – American Lung Association Lung Cancer Interception Dream Team. Typically, lung cancer develops in the body over years — but there is potential to prevent cellular changes before they happen and stop the lung cancer development in its tracks.

Dream Teams are a collection of interdisciplinary scientists from multiple institutions carrying out innovative research with the greatest potential to yield patient benefits quickly. The new Interception Dream Team focused on lung cancer will be tasked with investigating early molecular or other changes that lead to cancer development. This will inform successful future strategies and new approaches for both early detection and intervention (or stopping) of cancer cells in the lung.

The Dream Team will be funded at $7 million. This award marks the largest single American Lung Association investment for lung cancer research to date.

Details on the program are available via the AACR page on The deadline for Letters of Intent is March 22, 2017. The submission of full proposals will be invited from those selected for further consideration.

Momentum Research Award: Defeating Lung Cancer in Women, an American Lung Association and Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation Research Collaboration

The American Lung Association and the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation hope to drive understanding of sex differences in lung cancer incidence, pathophysiology, treatment outcomes and prognoses, and through this understanding build momentum toward saving lives.

This two-year, $250,000 award is designed to fund innovative and transformational research that shows potential for high impact in diagnosing and treating lung cancer in women. The first-ever recipient of this important award is Dr. David Brian Shackelford, Assistant Professor of Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. His research “Targeting cancer metabolism in therapy-resistant EGFR-mutant lung cancer,” is aimed at understanding the link between cell metabolism and cancer initiation, progression and resistance to therapy, focusing on cancer metabolism in therapy-resistant EGFR mutant lung cancer.

The EGFR mutant non-small cell lung cancer affects a large percentage of women never smokers, and the majority of these patients will develop resistance. It is Dr. Shackelford’s goal to understand this association, and identify ways to overcome treatment resistance - first in preclinical models and eventually through a clinical trial.

LUNG FORCE Research Innovation Project: Lung Cancer in Women Award

Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer of women, and to better understand the impact of lung cancer in women, the American Lung Association through its LUNG FORCE initiative has created a new research award to examine gender differences in lung cancer.

The first recipient of this award is Sharad Goyal, M.D., Associate Professor at the Rutgers Cancer Institute. Through this new award, Dr. Goyal and his team will seek to determine if ionizing radiation exposure leads to increased risk of lung cancer in women as compared to men.

Please see our Q & A with Dr. Goyal, about the plans for this project, and his excitement about the possible results.                                               

Alpha-1 Research, an American Lung Association and Alpha 1 Foundation Collaboration

Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency is a rare genetic disorder that is passed on in families and affects the lungs, liver and skin. When this condition affects the lungs, it causes emphysema, a part of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) along with chronic bronchitis. The Lung Association is co-funding a joint award to encourage research on advancing the understanding of alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency and to support research aimed at developing novel medical treatments, advancing current treatment options or finding a cure for alpha-1. We are currently co-funding a research grant with the Alpha-1 Foundation examining the effect of smoke exposure on lung inflammation in a mouse model of apha-1 deficiency.

Allergic Respiratory Disease Award, an American Lung Association and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) and the AAAAI Foundation

Representing a long-standing joint effort to promote and support research on advancing the understanding of allergic respiratory diseases, the American Lung Association is co-funding three  awards with the AAAAI and AAAAI Foundation. Suzanne Cassel, M.D., is examining blocking the development of cells involved in steroid-resistant asthma, ; Nora Barrett, MD, is exploring the mechanisms of inflammation and development of asthma; and Sunit Jariwala, MD, who is working on expanding a software program that uses touch-screen and voice recognition technology to deliver comprehensive asthma education to pediatric patients. 

American Lung Association and American Thoracic Society Research Collaborations

The Lung Association is partnering with the American Thoracic Society to co-fund two research grants for young investigators at important crossroads of their careers, typically those still in training or just gaining independence as faculty at institutions. Through this ‘career ladder’ funding structure, we are building a community of researchers dedicated to lung health and committed to lung disease research. Together, we are funding Mary Rice, M.D., MPH, who will be examining Ambient Temperature and Lung Function: Acute Effects and Interactions with Outdoor Pollutants and Bria M. Coates, M.D., who will be examining the impact of NOD-like receptor signaling in juvenile influenza A virus infection. Additionally the two associations are partnering to fund Henning Willers, MD on a Lung Cancer Discovery Award investigating how to attack tumors before lung cancer resistance begins. This research may lead to a dramatic change in how we treat EGFR mutant cancers, thereby prolonging lives and perhaps even achieving cures in some patients.

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