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Investments in Research

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.

Fostering Cures

This year, a major focus of our research program is to foster projects designed to find cures, prevent and relieve suffering associated with lung cancer. Our 2018-2019 Research Team includes 33 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

  • Mohamed Abazeed, M.D., Ph.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.

    Page Last Updated: January 10, 2019

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