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Three Ohio Researchers Join American Lung Association Research Team

Lung Association expands research investment to $8.7 million, making headway on its commitment to double its investment in research

(November 20, 2019) - COLUMBUS

For more information please contact:

Jill Thompson
[email protected]
312-940-7001

Today, the American Lung Association announced its new research team, which includes Mohamed Abazeed, MD, PhD, from the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Shouxiong Huang from the University of Cincinnati and Junran Zhang from The Ohio State University College of Medicine. This year, the organization has also increased its research investment to $8.7 million, through awards for both our Airways Clinical Research Center (ACRC) Network and its innovative Awards & Grants program. This announcement comes at an important time, as November is both Lung Cancer Awareness Month and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Awareness Month. 

The Awards and Grants Program provides investigators with the funds, at all levels of their career, to conduct novel and promising research to prevent, treat and even cure lung cancer and lung disease. The ACRC is the nation's largest not-for-profit network of clinical research centers dedicated to asthma and COPD treatment research that promises to have a direct, positive impact on patient care. 

Research projects funded by the Lung Association are carefully selected through rigorous scientific review and represent the investigation of a wide range of complex issues to help combat and reduce the suffering and burden of lung disease. Researchers in Ohio received the following awards:

Lung Cancer Discovery Award

Dr. Abazeed received the research award for his project, titled “Mapping and Exploiting the Subclonal Architecture of Lung Adenocarcinoma.

While recent large-scale sequencing studies of cancers have revealed their overall mutational landscapes, they have largely disregarded the individual genetic diversity that has been identified in most solid tumors, which has critical consequences for tailoring personalized cancer patient care. The distinct subclones that constitute this intra-tumoral diversity are dynamic in response to inherent genetic drift or selection related to anti-cancer treatments. Thus, the sampling of a tumor for genomic analyses in a fixed time and space offers only a restricted view of its genetic composition. For this reason, Dr. Abazeed has developed mathematical and experimental models to study the stratification of tumor subclones in topographic space and time. Upon completion, his work will provide a greater understanding of subclonal tumor dynamics and advance new strategies that seeks to exploit our understanding of clonal architecture to improve the care of patients with lung cancer.

Lung Cancer Discovery Award

Dr. Zhang received the research award for her project titled, “Interruption of Metabolism and DNA Damage Response in Cancer Therapy.”

Squalene epoxidase (SQLE), an enzyme required for cholesterol synthesis, is frequently overexpressed in NSCLC and is associated with poor patient prognosis. Their recent genome-wide loss-of-function screen and preliminary data suggest that SQLE-inhibited NSCLC cells are sensitive to inhibitors targeting the DNA damage response protein CHK1 and its upstream factor ATR. This study will help save the lives of lung cancer patients by identifying novel therapeutic approaches.

Innovation Award

Dr. Huang received a research award for his project, titled “Purification and Identification of Mycobacterial Metabolites for Activating Mucosal-associated Invariant T Cells.

Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) infects one-third of the world's population. Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis is present in virtually all countries, leading to an increased risk of failed antibiotic treatment. Development of novel TB vaccines is a global priority to fight tuberculosis. Although the licensed vaccine Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) has saved many children's lives, its protection against tuberculosis is insufficient. Previous vaccine development mainly focused on conventional T cells such as peptide-stimulated lymphocytes. Dr. Huang will target an unconventional T cell population, called mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells, which rapidly responds to other bacterial metabolites in early infection. He will determine mycobacterial metabolites for MAIT cell activation to facilitate the development of new TB vaccines.

See project overviews of all funded projects at Lung.org/research-team.

For media interested in speaking with an expert about lung health and the Lung Association Research Team, contact Jill Thompson at mailto:[email protected] or 312-940-7001. 

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About the American Lung Association

The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.

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