Press Releases

Uniting Against Lung Cancer Awards $2.2 Million in Lung Cancer Research Grants

Published: November 23rd, 2010

Uniting Against Lung Cancer announced its funding of $2.2 million in new lung cancer research for 2010 – bringing the foundation’s total research funding to over $12 million. This year Uniting has committed $1.2 million to support twelve individual projects through the Legacy Program, including research into non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer, and recognizes Dr. Avrum Spira as the 2010 Caine Halter Hope Now Award winner. Uniting has also committed an additional $1 million to its continuing partnership with the Canary Foundation to find biomarkers for early detection of lung cancer in never-smokers.

Legacy Programs for Advances in Lung Cancer Research

The Legacy Programs fund critical research in early detection, improved treatments and a cure for lung cancer. Uniting seeks to fund innovative and novel research, as well as to support promising young researchers, allowing the scientific leaders of tomorrow to devote their efforts to curing lung cancer.

“Uniting Against Lung Cancer funds innovative, translational lung cancer research, investing ‘seed money’ in promising new projects that otherwise would not be funded,” said Dr. Holli Kawadler, Scientific Program Director. “We seek to support the brightest minds in the field, including young researchers who will become tomorrow’s leaders in lung cancer research.”

In 2010, Uniting awarded $1.2 million to 12 researchers around the country. Nine projects focused on non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), the most common form of lung cancer arising in never smokers. Three projects focused on small cell lung cancer (SCLC), a severely under-funded disease.

NSCLC Program:

  • Trever Bivona, MD, PhD, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY - Dr. Bivona will investigate alternative targets in the Fas-NFkB pathway that may improve patient responses to EGFR therapies.
  • James DeGregori, PhD, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Denver, CO - Dr. DeGregori will test new combinations of FDA-approved drugs to improve patient responses to treatment.
  • Heidi Greulich, PhD, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA - Dr. Greulich will validate new candidate genes as potential therapeutic targets and new treatments.
  • Sarah Freemantle, PhD, Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, NH - Dr. Freemantle will test a new therapy targeting microRNA to treat lung cancer.
  • Christine Lovly MD, PhD, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN - Dr. Lovly will investigate the newly-discovered EML4-ALK genetic translocation and test new therapeutic compounds.
  • Vincent Miller, MD, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY – Dr. Miller will investigate how tumors respond to therapy by performing repeat biopsies in patients just after treatment.
  • Katerina Politi, PhD, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT – Dr. Politi will investigate how tumors respond to a new therapy being tested in an ongoing clinical trial using a preclinical model to track genetic and molecular changes.
  • Lecia Sequist, MD, MPH, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA – Dr. Sequist will be assessing how patients respond to treatment in real-time, performing serial biopsies as tumors become resistant to treatment.

SCLC Program:

  • Lauren Byers, MD, MS & John Heymach, MD, PhD, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX – Drs. Byers and Heymach will validate a new therapeutic target for small cell lung cancer, PARP, while identifying markers to determine which patients would respond best to therapy.
  • Julien Sage, PhD, Stanford University, Stanford, CA – Dr. Sage will be using a preclinical model to find new biomarkers in the blood for early detection of small cell lung cancer.
  • Kwok-Kin Wong, MD, PhD, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA – Dr. Wong will investigate a genetic translocation occurring in lung cancer, CHD7, to understand how it causes SCLC and how it can be targeted as a therapy.

In 2010, the Caine Halter Fund for Lung Cancer Research, Elliot’s Legacy, the Felice Lipit Jentis Memorial BAC Research Trust, the Hank Thompson Fund, Lily’s Light, the Marjorie Korff Fund, Mary Jo’s Fund to Fight Cancer, the Roger Rechler Lung Cancer Research Fund, and Uniting Against Lung Cancer: New England partnered with Uniting Against Lung Cancer to sponsor these research grants.

Caine Halter Hope Now Award for Lung Cancer Research

Uniting Against Lung Cancer also announces the winner of this year’s Caine Halter Hope Now Award, Dr. Avi Spira, MD, MSc. The purpose of this award is to provide funding for and to recognize the demonstrated excellence of research labs seeking to develop medical treatments for lung cancer.

Dr. Spira is an Associate Professor of Medicine and Director of the Translational Bioinformatics Program at the Boston University School of Medicine. He will receive a one-year award of $25,000 to apply towards lung cancer research in recognition of his continuing efforts to use advanced bioinformatics tools towards the early detection of lung cancer and seeking out novel treatments to improve patients’ quality of life.

The Foundation hosts Kites for a Cure™ events across the country, a benefit every November (Lung Cancer Awareness Month), and other events throughout the year, which help to fund its research initiatives. “With greater support from our many partners, we are able to fund the highest quality research that will make a difference for patients,” said Uniting Against Lung Cancer Executive Director, Jane Silverman. “Together we will conquer lung cancer.”

About Uniting Against Lung Cancer

Uniting Against Lung Cancer, founded as Joan’s Legacy in 2001, was developed to raise awareness about lung cancer and funds for research towards a cure. It has been joined in its research and awareness activities by like-minded groups, providing the funds needed for ground-breaking lung cancer research. In 2010, Uniting Against Lung Cancer merged with the Thomas G. Labrecque Foundation. Uniting has funded over $12 million in research to date. For more information, please visit