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.
The American Lung Association through the LUNG FORCE initiative has financed its single largest investment in lung cancer research to date. In collaboration with Stand Up To Cancer and the LUNGevity Foundation, we are co-funding two new research awards designed to cover a range of approaches for the early detection and interception of cancer, or treatment before the cancer takes hold.
Lung Cancer Interception Dream Team
The Stand Up To Cancer–LUNGevity – American Lung Association Lung Cancer Interception Dream Team will develop diagnostic tools, such as nasal swabs, blood tests and radiological imaging to confirm whether lung abnormalities found on chest imaging are benign lung disease or lung cancer. New blood tests will help identify patients at the earliest stages of recurrence, enabling timely interventions such as immunotherapy to protect against the recurrence of disease that was successfully treated.
- Leader: Avrum Spira, M.D., professor of medicine, pathology and bioinformatics, and director of the Cancer Center at Boston University-Boston Medical Center.
- Co-leader: Steven Dubinett, M.D., associate vice chancellor for research at UCLA and director of the lung cancer research program at the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Lung Cancer Interception Translational Research Team
The Stand Up To Cancer–LUNGevity – American Lung Association Lung Cancer Interception Translational Research Team will develop Lung Cancer Interception Assay (LCIA) to use in conjunction with low-dose CT scans, based on blood-based assays that examine circulating tumor cells and circulating tumor DNA. After completing pilot testing as part of this Translational Research Grant, the team plans to move the LCIA forward to larger, prospective clinical trials.
- Leader: Lecia Sequist, M.D., MPH, associate professor of medicine, and director of the Center for Innovation in Early Cancer Detection at Massachusetts General Hospital.
- Co-leader: Maximilian Diehn, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of radiation oncology, Stanford University School of Medicine.
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 of New Jersey. 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.
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.