Whitehead Institute Researcher Awarded American Lung Association Grant Aiming to Identify New Therapeutic Strategies to Treat Lung Cancer

Lung health research is more important than ever. Never have we faced so many challenges to our lung health, including COVID-19, vaping and smoke from increased wildfires. Today, the American Lung Association in Massachusetts announced that Dr. Kipp Weiskopf, the Valhalla Fellow, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research at MIT was awarded the Catalyst Award.

Weiskopf’s project is focused on understanding how immune cells called macrophages interact with certain types of lung cancer. Macrophages have the ability to attack cancer cells by "eating" them via a process known as phagocytosis. His team is studying new drugs that stimulate macrophages to attack lung cancer cells, particularly those that contain a mutation in the KRAS gene. The hope is that this study provides the scientific rationale for testing this treatment strategy in patients with KRAS mutant lung cancer.

Dr. Weiskpf said, “As a physician-scientist, this study was inspired and motivated by the patients I see in the hospital and the clinic. We hope that our research will identify new therapeutic strategies for KRAS mutant lung cancer, and we hope that the principles we learn from this study will benefit patients with other types of cancer as well.”

“Here in Massachusetts, we have a higher than average rate of new lung cancer cases and more than 858,000 people living with chronic lung disease,” said Daniel Fitzgerald, Director of Advocacy at the Lung Association. “We are excited for Dr. Weiskopf to join the American Lung Association Research Team to help improve lung health here in Massachusetts and across the nation.” 

In the 2022-2023 grants cycle, the Lung Association is funding $13.2 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. Awards were given in eight different categories; ALA/AAAAI Allergic Respiratory Diseases Award, ALA/ATS/CHEST Foundation Respiratory Health Equity Research Award, Catalyst Award, COVID-19 Respiratory Virus Research Award, Dalsemer Award, Innovation Award, Lung Cancer Discovery Award, and Public Policy Research Award. 

The Lung Association’s Nationwide Research Program includes the Awards and Grants Program, and also our 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 American Lung Association Research Team, visit Lung.org/research-team.

 

For more information, contact:

Jennifer Solomon
(516) 680-8927
[email protected]

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