Lifesaving Discoveries

Research is the key to new discoveries in lung health and over the past decade, strides have been made in lung cancer treatment and care. Personalized treatment is advancing thanks to biomarker testing and targeted therapies. New methods of early detection with low dose CT scans may increase the chances of survival for individuals at high risk. Still, we know more research is needed to defeat lung cancer.

Our Investment

Funding research is a critical part of the American Lung Association's work. We support a rich array of studies in lung cancer to help develop better treatment options and improve methods of early detection. Since 2014, including our LUNG FORCE investments, we have funded more than $12 million in lung cancer research grants and awards. In FY19 alone, we are providing more than $3 million for lung cancer research funding.

Research Collaborations

In 2017, the American Lung Association partnered with Stand Up to Cancer and the LUNGevity Foundation to announce new lung cancer research awards, bringing together leaders from across disciplines, institutions, and countries to collaborate and move research from bench to bedside to benefit patients more quickly. The Stand Up to Cancer-LUNGevity Foundation-American Lung Association awarded the Lung Cancer Interception Dream Team $5 million and the Lung Cancer Interception Translational Research Team $2 million. These awards marked the American Lung Association's largest single investment in lung cancer research to date.

Lung Cancer Interception Dream Team

The 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. To protect against recurrence of disease that has already been successfully treated, new blood tests will help identify patients at the earliest stages of recurrence, enabling timely interventions such as immunotherapy.

  • 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 Lung Cancer Interception Translational Research Team will develop an innovative multi-component diagnostic tool to calculate individualized risk of lung cancer from blood-based data. The Lung Cancer Interception Assay (LCIA) will be used in conjunction with low dose CT scans to make screening more accessible and accurate. The LCIA will select from the best blood-based assays that examine circulating tumor cells and circulating tumor DNA.

Leader: Lecia V. Sequist, M.D., Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center

Co-Leader: Maximillian Diehn, M.D., Ph.D., Stanford University School of Medicine

Update: Groundbreaking research by the Interception Translational Research Team, was recently featured in Nature. The team’s paper, titled “Integrating Genomic Features for Non-invasive Early Lung Detection,” details their investigation of a new blood test that utilizes deep sequencing for improved personal profiling to better predict lung cancer probability at an early stage. Authors include Dream Team leader Lecia Sequist, M.D., MPH, of Massachusetts General Hospital and co-leader Maximilian Diehn, M.D., Ph.D., of Stanford University.

Fostering Cures

A major focus of our research program is to foster projects designed to find cures, prevent and relieve suffering associated with lung cancer. Our 2019-2020 Research Team includes 31 awardees whose studies target lung cancer.

Our Lung Cancer Discovery Award supports meritorious research projects with the potential to:

  • Significantly improve and transform diagnostic and therapeutic paradigms;
  • Foster innovation, use novel approaches; and/or
  • Accelerate progress in lung cancer research that improves patient care and helps save lives.

Meet the Lung Cancer Researchers

Page last updated: April 17, 2020

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