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. Early detection methods with low dose CT scans can 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 approximately $2.65 million in lung cancer research grants and awards. In FY20 alone, we are providing nearly $2.7 million for lung cancer research funding, representing a 169 percent increase over last year.

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.

Update: Groundbreaking research by the Interception Dream Team was featured in the American Association for Cancer Research Journal (October 2019). The team’s paper, titled “The Immune Contexture Associates with the Genomic Landscape in Lung Adenomatous Premalignancy,” identifies genetic mutations, malignant pathways and an association between the mutational landscape and immune responses.

Funded Lung Cancer Researcher Making a Difference

Johnathan Whetstine, Ph.D., at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania continues his investigation of abnormal DNA duplication. The funded project, “Enzyme Could Help Predict Effectiveness of Lung Cancer Chemotherapy,” takes a close look at the role lung tumor variability may play in the increases of cancer-associated risk and drug resistance. His lab was the first to document epigenetic modifiers that promote DNA amplification leading to drug resistance.

Dr. Whetstine received the Lung Association’s Lung Cancer Discovery Award in 2014, 2017 and 2019.

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 2020-2021 Research Team includes 27 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: February 1, 2021

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