Lung Cancer Research | American Lung Association

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Lung Cancer Research

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Why We Need Research

Research provides hope and saves lives. This is especially true when it comes to lung cancer research. Lung cancer research can help develop better treatments, increasing the survival and quality of life for patients. Research can provide a better and longer future for those diagnosed with lung cancer as well and can also ultimately increase the number of survivors living with the disease.

The Lung Association supports lung cancer research so we can help prevent lung cancer cases, and failing that, prolong the lives of lung cancer patients. We have made some progress, but we plan to invest more, as lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States.

Our Lung Cancer Research Program

The American Lung Association is committed to funding lung cancer research. As part of our Awards and Grants Program, a large part of funds goes toward research on lung cancer prevention, treatment and quality of life. The primary goal of this lung cancer research program is simple: improve and save lives. The secondary goal is almost as important: To fund top-notch lung cancer researchers at important career crossroads to and gain long-term commitment to lung cancer research. Without the life-long dedication of lung cancer researchers and a large and active community of people trying to improve patients' lives, important and much-needed discoveries would be impossible.

What Research Is Being Done?

Thanks to the medical breakthroughs led by Lung Association researchers and their colleagues worldwide, our lung cancer researchers have made significant contributions to the field of lung cancer. For example, tumor testing and targeted therapies have helped advance the area of personalized treatment (finding the unique genetic makeup of a person's tumor and developing and using drugs that are designed to be most effective for that patient).

In 2018-2019, Lung Association researchers are studying things like:

  • How lung cancer can be intercepted.
  • Implementation of Lung Cancer Screening – clinical barriers to implementation.
  • Targeted Therapy: How cancer cells bypass inhibition of KRAS enabling us to identify optimal combination therapies
  • Research that could determine if radiation during heart procedures causes women to have a greater chance of developing lung cancer compared to men.
  • Targeting cancer metabolism in therapy-resistant EGFR mutant lung cancer.
  • Novel Treatments for Small Cell Lung Cancer.
  • Capitalizing on hospitalization to engage low SES smokers in LDCT screening

Lung Cancer Researchers

Below are some of our lung cancer researchers and their studies. Learn more about our current lung cancer research.

  • Mohamed Abazeed, M.D.
    Mapping and Exploiting the Subclonal Architecture of Lung Adenocarcinoma
    American Lung Association researcher Mohamed Abazeed has developed mathematical and experimental models to study the stratification of tumor subclones in topographic space and time.
  • Joseph Barbi, Ph.D.
    Will Blocking A Nerve Protein Help Stop Lung Tumor Growth?
    American Lung Association researcher Joseph Barbi is exploring how neuritin allows Treg accumulation and function in tumors, and we will determine if blocking neuritin can unleash the immune system to halt lung tumor progression.
  • Stephen Baylin, M.D.
    Novel Model Aids Understanding of How Smoking Causes Lung Cancer
    American Lung Association researcher Stephen Baylin is using a novel model to study how smoking causes lung cancer.
  • Trever Bivona, M.D., Ph.D.
    Defining New Targeted Therapy Approach for Lung Cancer Mutation
    American Lung Association researcher Trever Bivona is defining a new targeted therapy approach for patients with a certain form of lung cancer caused by mutation of a gene called NF1.
  • Lisa Carter-Harris, Ph.D.
    Understanding Low Rates of Referral for Lung Cancer Screening
    American Lung Association researcher Lisa Carter-Harris is studying barriers to discussions and subsequent referral from the clinicians' perspective in order to develop effective interventions for high-risk patients that clinicians will integrate into their practice.
  • Maria Cortez, Ph.D.
    Overcoming Lung Cancer Immunotherapy Resistance
    American Lung Association researcher Maria Cortez is studying changes in the metabolism of lipids (fats) in resistant tumors, and exploring how these changes influence the ability of lung cancer tumor cells to evade the immune system.
  • Kristina Crothers, M.D.
    Communicating Results of Lung Cancer Screening to Patients
    American Lung Association researcher Kristina Crothers will determine patient factors associated with adherence to follow-up; assess patient understanding and preferences for methods of communicating results of lung cancer screening; and determine whether patients find an individualized report detailing the results of their lung cancer screening is acceptable, decreases distress and helps with understanding.
  • Gina DeNicola, Ph.D.
    Changes in Cell Signaling Pathway Could Shed Light on Lung Cancer
    American Lung Association researcher Gina DeNicola is studying the role of NRF2 mutation in both tumor initiation and progression. We will also investigate whether therapy that inhibits NRF2 itself or exploits NRF2 activation would eradicate NRF2 mutant tumors.
  • Sharad Goyal, M.D.
    Does Radiation From Heart Procedures Increase Risk of Lung Cancer?
    American Lung Association researcher Sharad Goyal is investigating if radiation during heart procedures causes women to have a greater chance of developing lung cancer compared to men.
  • Taran Gujral, Ph.D.
    Genetic Mutation Could Help Predict Response to Lung Cancer Chemotherapy
    American Lung Association researcher Taran Gujral is validating the role of STK11 mutations in the response to gemcitabine in lung cancer cell lines and a STK11-deficient mouse model.
  • Landon Inge, Ph.D.
    Targeting a Cellular Pathway to Treat a Type of Lung Cancer
    American Lung Association researcher Landon Inge has evidence that LKB1-deficient lung cancers rely on a specific pathway to assist in survival. Using novel model systems, we will demonstrate that targeting this pathway will lead to a new approach to treat LKB1-deficient lung cancer.
  • Hasmeena Kathuria, M.D.
    Shared Decision-Making in Lung Cancer Screening
    American Lung Association researcher Hasmeena Kathuria is studying the effect of adding a nurse-driven low-dose CT screening shared decision-making intervention to inpatient smoking cessation counseling among hospitalized smokers.
  • Venkateshwar Keshamouni, Ph.D.
    NK cell-mediated Immunotherapy against Lung Cancer
    American Lung Association researcher Venkateshwar Keshamouni is defining the role of a protein called CADMI that mediates this tumor cell killing by NK cells and testing strategies to enhance CADM1 expression in tumor cells and also to boost NK cell functions by modulating receptors that recognize CADM1, for the prevention of lung cancer metastasis.
  • Koichi Kobayashi, M.D., Ph.D.
    Targeting Two Mutations to Develop New Lung Cancer Therapies
    American Lung Association researcher Koichi Kobayashi is studying how impaired NLRC5 function and mutations in oncogenes work together using our lung cancer animal model.
  • Dan Landau, M.D., Ph.D.
    Using Fragments of DNA in the Blood to Detect Lung Cancer
    American Lung Association researcher Dan Landau developed a novel ultra-sensitive cancer DNA fragment detection method that identifies cancer at very low frequencies and enhances detection in up to two orders of magnitude (a factor of 100). These findings may lead to cancer detection by blood testing.
  • Piro Lito, M.D., Ph.D.
    Treating Lung Cancer With KRAS Mutation
    American Lung Association researcher Piro Lito is building our work describing the mechanism of action of these drugs, we will investigate how cancer cells bypass inhibition of KRAS and then identify optimal combination therapies, in order to maximize the effect of these drugs in patients.
  • Billy Loo, M.D., Ph.D.
    FLASH radiation therapy and immune response in lung cancer
    American Lung Association researcher Billy Loo is studying how a new radiation technology works with the immune system, and test its ability to enhance the impact of immunotherapy on lung cancer.
  • Seyed Javad Moghaddam, M.D.
    Focusing on Gender Specific Cell-Signaling Pathways Involved in Lung Cancer Growth
    American Lung Association researcher Seyed Moghaddam is studying gender- and cell-specific signaling pathways that are involved in KRAS mutant lung cancer growth, and to target these pathways and ultimately develop personalized therapies for this fatal subtype of lung cancer.
  • Trudy Oliver, Ph.D.
    Treating Genetic Differences in Small Cell Lung Cancer
    American Lung Association researcher Trudy Oliver is building on discovery of a novel treatment for MYC-driven SCLC, to use human cells and mouse models to identify therapies that will specifically target MYCL-driven SCLC.
  • Laura Petrillo, M.D.
    Helping Patients With Lung Cancer Mutations Understand Treatment
    American Lung Association researcher Laura Petrillo will explore patients' understanding of what testing positive for a lung cancer mutation means for their life expectancy, and how doctors convey that information to patients.
  • Sharon Pine, Ph.D.
    Treating PI3 kinase-mutant NSCLC
    American Lung Association researcher Sharon Pine is testing a novel way to treat squamous cell carcinomas that have a mutation in the gene called PIK3CA.
  • Lecia V. Sequist, M.D., MPH
    Scientific and Medical Editorial Review Panel, Lung Cancer Interception Translational Research Team: Lead Investigator
    Lung Cancer Interception Translational Research Team: Blood-based Early Interception of Lung Cancer
    Dr. Sequist is a member of the American Lung Association's Scientific and Medical Editorial Review Panel. She is an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and an attending physician at Massachusetts General Hospital.
  • David Shackelford, Ph.D.
    Selectively Targeting Metabolic Needs Unique to Lung Cancer
    American Lung Association researcher David Shackelford is studying precise therapies to inhibit tumor cell metabolism and growth in lung cancer.
  • David Shechter, Ph.D.
    When the Writing Goes Wrong: Protein Arginine Methyltransferases in Lung Cancer
    American Lung Association researcher David Schechter is testing, in lung cancer cells, specific drugs against enzymes, one of which is currently in phase I trials, in combination with a range of other drugs to understand how they could work in combination.
  • Avrum Spira, M.D.
    Lung Cancer Interception Dream Team: Intercept Lung Cancer Through Immune, Imaging, & Molecular Evaluation (InTIME)
    Lung Cancer Interception Dream Team: Intercept Lung Cancer Through Immune, Imaging, & Molecular Evaluation (InTIME)
  • Johanna Uthoff
    Lung Cancer Risk Assessment Using Quantitative Imaging
    Johanna Uthoff plans to create a computer-aided-diagnosis tool using artificial intelligence techniques to predict a tumor’s cancer risk.
  • Noel Warfel, Ph.D.
    Blocking Enzyme PIM Kinase to Treat Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
    American Lung Association researcher Noel Warfel is studying how PIM inhibitors inactivate Nrf2 in KEAP1-mutant tumors and to test the efficacy of PIM inhibitors in combination with currently approved therapies in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer.
  • Hideo Watanabe, M.D., Ph.D.
    Understanding the Complexity and Variability of Lung Tumors
    American Lung Association researcher Hideo Watanabe is studying factors that are essential during the formation of the lung and control the identity of lung cells in adults.
  • Johnathan Whetstine, Ph.D.
    Identifying Genetic Factors Influencing Drug Resistance in Lung Cancer
    American Lung Association researcher Johnathan Whetstine is investigating the molecular basis for KDM4A modulation of these processes in lung cancer.
  • Nicole White, Ph.D.
    Insight Into How Lung Tumors Grow
    American Lung Association researcher Nicole White is studying genes involved in the promotion or suppression of the spread of lung cancer (metastasis).
  • Timothy Williamson, M.A., MPH
    Helping Lung Cancer Patients Cope with Their Diagnosis and Treatment
    American Lung Association researcher Timothy Williamson is examining the impact of coping, social support, self-compassion, stigma, and regret on depression, physical symptoms, and sleep in lung cancer patients.
  • Bora Youn, MPH, MS
    Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Treatment in the Elderly
    American Lung Association researcher Bora Youn is examining the patterns of use, survival, and cost of novel treatments that are commonly used for advanced NSCLC patients receiving care in routine oncology practice.
  • Maryam Yousefi, Ph.D.
    Evaluating Lung Cancer Treatment on Different Genetic Variations
    American Lung Association researcher Maryam Yousefi will assess the response of more than 10 different genetic variations in lung tumors in individual mice to various therapeutic regimens using genome-editing, tumor barcoding, and DNA sequencing.

How You Can Be a Part of Research

Lung Cancer Registry

The Lung Cancer Registry is a database of medical information collected from thousands of lung cancer patients. Researchers study this health data to gain a better understanding of the disease, which can ultimately lead to better outcomes for patients.  By participating in the Registry, you not only will help advance lung cancer research, but you will also be able to learn about new clinical trial opportunities that may help in your own treatment program.

Learn more about the Lung Cancer Registry and how to sign up.

Lung Cancer Clinical Trials

Read questions and answers about clinical trials and see our Lung Association listing of current trials.

View our infographic Are clinical trials right for you? and download our checklist to help you talk with your doctor about clinical trials.

You can also search the Lung Cancer Clinical Trials Matching Service, provided by a partnership between the American Lung Association and EmergingMed. Patients can search for clinical trials that match their specific diagnosis and treatment history.

Find a Clinical Trial

Learn more about clinical trial programs in your area by searching our list and be sure to discuss with your doctor whether a clinical trial is right for you.

View Clinical Trials


    Reviewed and approved by the American Lung Association Scientific and Medical Editorial Review Panel. Last reviewed November 24, 2017.

    Page Last Updated: November 14, 2018

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