Lung cancer is still the leading cause of death by cancer in the U.S., with someone diagnosed about every two minutes. To address this, the American Lung Association has renewed a partnership with LUNGevity to fund innovative research to intercept lung cancer—that is, detecting and treating pre-cancerous cells before they have a chance to become malignant.

Accelerating Innovation

This partnership is not a typical research endeavor; it is part of the American Lung Association Research Institute’s new Accelerator Program, which seeks to form collaborations with government, industry and other non-profit organizations like LUNGevity who have a shared mission to improve lung health.

"Early detection of lung cancer is crucial to saving lives,” says Harold Wimmer, President and CEO of the American Lung Association, stressing how critical this partnership is. “By investing in research to intercept lung cancer at its earliest stages, we have the potential to revolutionize how we approach this disease and improve outcomes for patients."

Leading the Team

Heading this ambitious initiative are Dr. Avrum Spira, Boston Medical Center, and Dr. Steven Dubinett University of California, Los Angeles, who are esteemed leaders in the field of lung cancer research. Their collaborative project, titled “Intercept Lung Cancer Through Immune, Imaging & Molecular Evaluation In TIME,” seeks to define how lung cancer progresses.

By utilizing cutting-edge technologies like robot-assisted bronchoscopy, they aim to establish a timeline of pre-cancerous cell evolution into malignant cancer—a pivotal step toward early detection and intervention.

"This project represents an evolution of our ongoing efforts to understand and intercept lung cancer before it progresses,” reflects Dr. Spira. “By unraveling the molecular and immune mechanisms underlying lung cancer development, we can develop targeted strategies for early detection and intervention."

Continuing the Legacy of Impactful Lung Cancer Research

The partnership builds on a successful previous collaborative effort, which included research funded by the American Lung Association, LUNGevity Foundation and Stand Up To Cancer. This collaboration has already yielded significant findings, from mapping the pre-cancer genome to identifying enzymes and proteins associated with pre-malignant cells.

Here are a few of the recent breakthrough findings published by the Lung Cancer Interception Team:

  • Unlocking Mechanisms of Cancer Treatment Resistance: The discovery of an enzyme called APOBEC3B, that influences how lung cancer develops resistance to EGFR-targeted therapy, which holds the promise of enhancing treatment effectiveness (Nature Genetics, December 2023).
  • Modeling how cancer cells change their DNA: A novel computational method allows scientists to study how cancer cells change their DNA, leading to innovations that can improve lung cancer treatments (PLOS Computational Biology, October 2023).
  • Insights into Immune Evasion: A comprehensive review which sheds light on how cancer cells evade detection by immune systems, providing a roadmap for the development of novel immunotherapeutic strategies (Immunity, October 2023).
  • Targeting Pre-Cancerous Cells: Identification of important gene regulation and function in early stages of lung cancer development paves the way for targeted treatments (Journal of Experimental and Clinical Cancer Research, May 2023).
  • Precision in Metastasis Detection: Establishment of the timing and patterns of metastasis in non-small cell lung cancer guides tissue sampling strategies, leading to improved therapies and patient outcomes (Nature, April 2023).

To read more about each of these groundbreaking studies and others published by the Lung Cancer Interception Team, visit our Research News page, which provides easy-to-understand summaries of most all Lung Association-funded research studies.

Sustaining Momentum in Lung Cancer Research

The insights gained from the Lung Cancer Interception Team’s previous research lay the groundwork for the innovative approaches and discoveries that will define the next phase of lung cancer interception. That is why this renewed partnership is notable, as Drs. Spira and Dubinett’s team have gained serious momentum from their prior work.

"Our past achievements serve as a springboard for future success. By building upon the foundation laid by previous research, we can push the boundaries of what's possible in lung cancer interception,” says Dr. Spira. “Together, we are charting a course toward a future where lung cancer is intercepted, not just treated."

To learn more about the incredible research being conducted by the Lung Cancer Interception Team, visit  

If you or a loved one are looking for support or more information about lung cancer, visit

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