NEW YORK, Nov. 17, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Today the Lung Cancer Research Foundation® (LCRF) announced the awardees of its 2020 Scientific Grant Program during its 15th Anniversary Virtual Celebration. Through this program, LCRF awarded $1.2 million dollars in research grants to eight investigators whose projects show promise to make a sustained and lasting impact on the field of lung cancer research and lung cancer outcomes. In addition to its annual pilot grants, LCRF awarded research grants focused on overcoming disparities in lung cancer, an area of research that remains a timely and unmet need.

LCRF is the leading nonprofit organization focused on funding innovative, high-reward research with the potential to extend survival and improve quality of life for people with lung cancer. To date, LCRF has funded 383 research grants totaling nearly $36 million, the highest amount provided by an organization dedicated to funding lung cancer research.

“I could not be more pleased by these results during a year which has obviously been quite challenging,” said Dr. Brendon Stiles, Chair of LCRF’s Board of Directors. “The pilot grants are a great collection of science, with grants from top institutions, covering topics that are novel and cutting edge. The disparities grant pool was particularly strong this year and incredibly timely, and the grants our team have chosen go a long way towards addressing disparities among minorities with regard to lung cancer outcomes.”

“As a lung cancer researcher and former LCRF grantee, I know first-hand the importance and impact LCRF’s funding has on the careers of junior scientists,” said Katerina Politi, PhD, Chair of LCRF’s Scientific Advisory Board and Clinical Biologist and Associate Professor at Yale’s School of Medicine. “By providing an environment where investigators can pursue their innovative work, we support not only the immediate output of that work but of the work which comes afterwards, that lead to significant breakthroughs. This is the science that is driving the discoveries that we hear about today, making all of the technological and drug discovery possible.”

Through its annual Pilot Grant Program, LCRF funds innovative research focused on the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure of lung cancer. This year, LCRF will be funding four projects through this mechanism. The James B. Dougherty, MD Award for Scientific Merit is presented to the investigator whose proposal was selected for outstanding overall merit by the Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Board. This year’s recipient is Michael Zimmermann, PhD, Group Leader at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL). Dr. Zimmermann’s research project is titled, “Identifying risk factors for lung cancer predisposition through systematic evaluation of environmental carcinogens’ activation by the respiratory tract microbiota.”

“I’m truly excited and honored to receive this James B. Dougherty, MD Award for Scientific Merit,” said Dr. Zimmermann. “This award will enable our research to go toward investigation of how environmental carcinogens might be modulated by the lung microbiome to then trigger the onset of cancer, and we hope with this work we can better understand how the lung microbiome can be a risk factor for lung cancer.”

LCRF’s other funding mechanism, focused on overcoming disparities in lung cancer, was founded with support from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), in loving memory of Kathryn Louloudis. This year, LCRF will be funding four projects in this area, focused on topics including gender, racial, and socioeconomic disparities in care and outcomes. These projects will address important questions across the care continuum and ultimately help to overcome the significant gaps in health equity among lung cancer patients.

“SNF is proud to partner with the Lung Cancer Research Foundation to fund research grants focused on reducing disparities of all sorts in lung cancer, from incidence to diagnosis to outcomes and beyond,” said Roula Siklas, Senior Program Officer at Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF). “The focus on disparities in lung cancer could not be more important or timely. Health disparities across any dimension – race, gender, socioeconomic background – must be addressed. SNF hopes to help make quality outcomes and care accessible to all.”

LCRF’s William C. Rippe Award for Distinguished Research in Lung Cancer is presented to the investigator whose proposal not only demonstrated exceptional scientific merit but also exemplified an enduring commitment to making an impact in the field of lung cancer research. This year’s recipient is Hilary Robbins, PhD, MPH from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). The title of Dr. Robbins’s research project is “Development of risk prediction models to ensure equitable eligibility for lung cancer screening in minority populations.”

“I am so excited and honored to receive the William C. Rippe Award for Distinguished Research in Lung Cancer from the Lung Cancer Research Foundation,” said Dr. Robbins. “My proposal will specifically develop new tools to identify African-Americans and Hispanic Americans who are likely to benefit from lung cancer screening.”

In addition to the presentation of the 2020 Scientific Grant Program awards, LCRF’s 15th Anniversary Virtual Celebration included remarks from its Board Chair, Dr. Brendon Stiles, on how lung cancer research has changed over the last 15 years, and from LCRF’s Scientific Advisory Board Chair, Dr. Katerina Politi, on the impact of the research that LCRF has funded during that time. Lung cancer patients, John Doll and Michael Echenberg, gave a glimpse of how research has impacted their lung cancer journey during the program. Immediately following the program, LCRF held its inaugural Scientific Symposium with a roundtable discussion on overcoming resistance, moderated by Dr. Katerina Politi with panelists from esteemed institutions across the country. Both programs were recorded and can be viewed at LCRF.org/celebrate.

The 2020 Pilot Grant Program award recipients include:

Michael Zimmermann, PhD
European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL, Germany)

Identifying risk factors for lung cancer predisposition through systematic evaluation of environmental carcinogens’ activation by the respiratory tract microbiota

William Lockwood, PhD
British Columbia Cancer Agency (Canada)

SNF2 Histone Linker PHD RING Helicase as a novel tumor suppressor gene and risk factor in lung adenocarcinoma development

Chengcheng Jin, PhD
University of Pennsylvania

Targeting the IL-1beta pathway for lung cancer treatment

Hideko Isozaki, PhD
Massachusetts General Hospital

Targeting APOBEC3A induction as a new therapeutic strategy to prevent acquired drug resistance in non-small cell lung cancer

The 2020 Disparities in Lung Cancer Research Grant Program award recipients include:

Hilary Robbins, PhD, MPH
International Agency for Research on Cancer (France)

Development of risk prediction models to ensure equitable eligibility for lung cancer screening in minority populations

Marjory Charlot, MD, MPH
University of North Carolina

Understanding the immune landscape of non-small cell lung cancer in African Americans

Chengguo Xing, PhD
University of Florida

Contributions of tobacco exposure, NNK, and stress to lung cancer risk disparities between AA and CA male smokers

Joshua Campbell, PhD
Boston University

Determining differences in immunotherapy outcomes and immunobiology in African American patients with NSCLC

For more information about LCRF and the Scientific Grant Program, visit lcrf.org.

About the Lung Cancer Research Foundation

The Lung Cancer Research Foundation® (LCRF) is the leading nonprofit organization focused on funding innovative, high-reward research with the potential to extend survival and improve quality of life for people with lung cancer. LCRF’s mission is to improve lung cancer outcomes by funding research for the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure of lung cancer. To date, LCRF has funded 383 research grants, totaling nearly $36 million, the highest amount provided by a nonprofit organization dedicated to funding lung cancer research. For more information, visit lcrf.org.

CONTACT: Sheila Sullivan, [email protected]

SOURCE Lung Cancer Research Foundation

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