Lung Cancer Interception Dream Team

Research Collaboration to Improve Diagnostics for Earlier Detection

Imagine if it were possible to stop cancer in its tracks before it even began. Is this just wishful thinking? Not if the Lung Cancer Interception Dream Team has anything to say about it.

As a collaborative effort with Stand Up To Cancer and the LUNGevity Foundation, the Lung Cancer Interception Dream Team leverages a new approach to lung cancer prevention: cancer interception.

Dr. Steven Dubinett and Dr. Avrum Spira have pulled together a team of top-notch medical researchers for their Stand Up To Cancer-LUNGevity-American Lung Association Dream Team.

Dream Team Partners

This project began in 2017, when the American Lung Association joined forces with Stand Up To Cancer and LUNGevity to fund new lung cancer research awards that would bring together leading researchers from across disciplines, institutions, and countries to collaborate on ways to move research from bench to bedside more quickly to benefit patients sooner. 

The initial $5 million investment was awarded to the Lung Cancer Interception Dream Team with the goal of learning how to intercept, or stop, cells from turning cancerous.

Stand Up to Cancer logo
Lungevity logo

Why Interception?

In a football game, a touchdown can be prevented by an interception. Cancer interception is a promising new approach to cancer detection and treatment. Instead of detecting cancer after it has significantly grown or spread, the potential exists to detect and treat tumors at early, less dangerous stages or possibly before they become cancerous. Early detection of lung cancer is key to saving live. That's because it is easier to treat lung cancer in its early stages before it has spread.

Members of the Lung Interception Dream Team

Dream Team Goals

The Lung Cancer Interception Dream Team's goal is to understand how early lung cancer develops and test methods to block this development. To do this, they will study lung tissue to determine how to identify abnormal lung growths that require aggressive treatment along with treatments to block development of these growths into invasive lung cancers. They will also 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 ensure that patients without lung cancer can avoid unnecessary testing and procedures. Finally, they will develop tests to determine which patients are most likely benefit from various treatment strategies, in order to aid in the interception of these early lung cancers.

Dr. Avrum Spira

Leader: Avrum Spira, M.D.

Professor of Medicine, Pathology and Bioinformatics, Director of Cancer Center at Boston University-Boston Medical Center, and Global Head of Lung Cancer Initiative at Johnson & Johnson

Dr. Steven Dubinett

Co-leader: Steven Dubinett, M.D.

Associate Vice Chancellor for Research at University of California-Los Angeles and Director of Lung Cancer Research Program at Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center

Dream Team Updates

Most recently, groundbreaking research from the Interception Dream Team was featured in Nature Communications (September 2022) exploring a novel, cost-effective way to detect cancer using cell-free DNA in blood samples.

In addition, the Dream Team has reported the following milestones: 

  • Presented findings at ESMO (European Society for Medical Oncology) Congress 2022 that indicate cells with EGFR and KRAS gene mutations can turn cancerous when exposed to air pollutants.
  • Published in the American Association for Cancer Research Journal (October 2019) identifying genetic mutations and malignant pathways that lay the groundwork for resetting the immune response.
  • Established a large bank of pre-invasive squamous and pre-invasive lesions in the resection margin of lung adenocarcinoma lesions that are subject to single cell and bulk RNA and DNA profiling.
  • Completed single-cell RNA sequencing of pre-invasive squamous lesions identifying shifts in basal cell state transcriptional programs.
  • Identified quantitative imaging features of lung nodules associated with lung cancer status and built initial radiomic models for lung cancer predictions.

Learn More About the Dream Team

EACH Breath Blog Interview with Dr. Dubinett

Dr. Dubinett talks about the progress made what it means for the future of lung cancer.
Read blog

Lungcast Episode Featuring Drs. Spira and Dubinett

Hear how experts focused on discovering better ways to detect lung cancer before it takes hold.
Listen to Podcast

Page last updated: February 2, 2023

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