Blog: Decoding the Research

Improving Survival Cell by Cell

Published: June 3rd, 2014

“Understanding how cancer develops, grows, and responds and becomes resistant to therapy is an immensely challenging question, but also a fascinating one.  Performing lung cancer research not only provides me with a chance to uncover the fundamental biological basis of the disease, but also allows me to do research that I hope will positively impact patient lives.” – Dr. Collin Blakely, MD, PhD

Dr. Blakely is a Fellow in the Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology/Oncology at the University of California, San Francisco and received his MD and PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Blakely’s current research focuses on deciphering how and why patients with EGFR-mutant lung cancers develop resistance to targeted therapies, such as erlotinib.  Specifically, he is studying how rare populations of tumor cells can drive response and resistance to EGFR-targeted therapies. He is also investigating combination therapies that may prevent or overcome targeted therapy resistance and ultimately improve outcomes for lung cancer patients.

“I am motivated by the lung cancer patients that I see in my thoracic oncology clinic every week who want nothing more than a chance at a cure.”

Dr. Blakely’s grant is co-sponsored by Uniting Against Lung Cancer and Free to Breathe. “Funding from non-profit organization is critical to pushing lung cancer research forward as it provides researchers with the freedom to pursue new and exciting areas of research that may lay the foundation for new and more effective lung cancer treatments.  Organizations like UALC are able to provide funding directly to researchers and provide seed funding to projects that otherwise may not be funded.  It is these small ideas that can eventually lead to fundamental breakthroughs that have the potential to change the way we treat lung cancer.”

What does your support of researchers like Dr. Blakely mean? “Funding from UALC has provided a tremendous boost to my career and allows me to continue to pursue the research that I have become very passionate about.  For me personally, receiving this award provides me with validation for all of the hard work that I have put in and encourages me to continue to pursue a research career.”

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