Two Chicago Researchers Awarded Grants to Study New Targets to Treat Lung Cancer

American Lung Association’s funding provided at critical time for research

With lung diseases like COVID-19 and lung cancer, vaping and smoke from increased wildfires, lung health research has never been more important. Today, the American Lung Association in Greater Chicago announced that two researchers in the Windy City are being bestowed the Lung Cancer Discovery Award to help advance treatment responses to this devasting disease.

“In Chicago, we face lung health challenges like increased air pollution, poor indoor air quality and high COVID-19, lung cancer and COPD rates. In addition, nearly 1.5 million people in Illinois are living with chronic lung disease,” said Felicia Fuller, director of health promotions at the Lung Association in Illinois. “We are excited to have these researchers join the American Lung Association Research Team to help improve lung health in Chicago and across the nation.” 

The Chicago Research Awardees are:

  • Elizaveta Benevolenskaya, PhD, The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois at Chicago – Received $100,000 Lung Cancer Discovery Award funding for the “Finding cancer vulnerability through analysis of tolerant cell populations” project. Dr. Benevolenskaya’s project aims to find new targets for combination drug therapy to treat patients with non-small cell lung cancer with a mutation in the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene.
  • Sean Pitroda, MD, The University of Chicago – Received $100,000 Lung Cancer Discovery Award funding for the “Targeting intron retention to enhance immunotherapy response in NSCLC” project. Dr. Pitroda’s project aims to acquire a better understanding of how lung cancer evades one’s own immune system, and in turn, improve the long-term survival of patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer.

In the 2022-2023 grants cycle, the Lung Association is funding $13.1 million for more than 130 lung health research grants. For this round of funding, the organization placed a greater focus on strategic partnerships with key organizations like American Thoracic Society and CHEST, and grants that focus on equity like the Harold Amos Scholar. Research projects funded by the Lung Association are carefully selected through rigorous scientific review and awardees represent the investigation of a wide range of complex issues.  

The Lung Association’s Nationwide Research Program includes the Awards and Grants Program, and the Airways Clinical Research Network, the nation's largest not-for-profit network of clinical research centers dedicated to asthma and COPD treatment research.

For more information about the new grant awardees and the entire Lung Association Research Team, visit

Media Resources

For more information, contact:

James A. Martinez
(312) 445-2501
[email protected]

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