Caine Halter Hope Now Award

The Hope Now Award was established in 2007 by Chawla Hope Initiatives under the direction of Prem Chawla. This award recognizes the demonstrated excellence of research labs seeking to develop novel treatment options for lung cancer survivors, and provides $25,000 to further fund the winner’s lung cancer research.

In 2008, The Caine Halter Fund for Lung Cancer Research began sponsorship of the award, known as the Caine Halter Hope Now Award.
Caine Halter

John D. Minna, MD
The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas

2013 Recipient

Dr. John Minna is considered by many to be one of the founders of modern lung cancer research. His work has focused on understanding the molecular pathogenesis of lung cancer and developing personalized medicine for lung cancer patients. Over his career, Dr. Minna served as Chief of the Section of Somatic Cell Genetics, Chief of the NCI-VA and NCI-Navy Medical Oncology Branches at the National Cancer Institute. Since 1991, he has been a Professor of Internal Medicine and Pharmacology and Director of the Hamon Center for Therapeutic Oncology Research and now co-leads the Experimental Therapeutics Program for the UTSW Simmons Cancer Center.  He is currently the Max L. Thomas Distinguished Chair in Molecular Pulmonary Oncology and Sarah M. and Charles E. Seay Distinguished Chair in Cancer Research. Dr. Minna leads a number of large lung cancer research programs, including an NCI Special Program of Research Excellence between UTSW and the MD Anderson Cancer Center. He also directs a NASA Special Center of Research to study the effects of high energy particle radiation (found in space) and low dose gamma radiation (found on earth) on lung carcinogenesis. He is part of the NCI Cancer Target Discovery and Development Network, and several State of Texas Cancer Prevention and Research Institute grants to discover new therapeutic targets in lung cancer.  He has authored nearly 600 research articles, and has trained over 60 young scientists to be lung cancer researchers. 
Paul A. Bunn, Jr., MD
University of Colorado, Denver

2012 Recipient

Dr. Bunn, the James Dudley endowed Professor of Lung Cancer Research at the University of Colorado, is recognized for his unwavering commitment to advancing lung cancer research and the care of persons with the illness. Dr. Bunn has made innumerable contributions to advancing care for lung cancer patients throughout his career, most notably developing novel therapies for lung cancer patients. His service includes work and leadership at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), NCI Lung Cancer Steering Committee, NCI Specialized Program of Research Excellence Grants, University of Colorado Cancer Center, Chairman of the FDA Oncology Drugs Advisory Committee, and past President of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Dr. Bunn is currently the Executive Director of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer and Principal Investigator of the Lung Cancer Mutation Consortium, the largest national initiative to prospectively examine non-small cell lung cancer tumors and match patients to the best possible therapies. Dr. Bunn serves on numerous editorial boards and has published over 290 peer-reviewed articles, 130 review articles, 90 book chapters and edited 9 books. Dr. Bunn is also a past member of the Uniting Against Lung Cancer Medical Committee.
Matthew L. Meyerson, MD, PhD
Harvard Medical School
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

2011 Recipient

Dr. Meyerson is a leader in the field of cancer genomics with a focus on lung cancer. His laboratory has pioneered technical and computational approaches for cancer genome research and has greatly impacted the field of lung cancer. In collaboration with other groups, the Meyerson lab identified mutations to the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), as well as a number of other genes driving lung and other cancers. Coupling discovery and functional studies, Dr. Meyerson’s lab strives to define new therapeutic targets that will improve diagnosis and treatment for lung cancer. In addition to his faculty positions at DCFI and Harvard, Dr. Meyerson plays a leading role in “The Cancer Genome Atlas” (TCGA) as principal investigator of the Genome Characterization Center at the Broad Institute, and co-chairs the lung cancer working group. Dr. Meyerson also co-directs the Center for Cancer Genome Discovery at DFCI.

Avrum Spira, MD, MSc
Boston University

2010 Recipient

Dr. Spira leads the Pulmonomics Lab at Boston University. Using an array of bioinformatic approaches, including experimental, statistical, and computational methods, Dr. Spira’s lab analyzes gene expression patterns in the airway and in lung tissue to non-invasively detect patients at high risk for lung cancer. Earlier this year, Dr. Spira and his colleagues identified a potential biomarker for early detection of lung cancer that can distinguish between smokers with and without disease, and reported a potential treatment for these patients that can reverse the changes in gene activity. This work represents Dr. Spira’s continuing efforts to use advanced bioinformatics tools towards the early detection of lung cancer and to seek out novel treatments to improve patients’ quality of life.

Marc Ladanyi, MD
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

2009 Recipient

As head of the clinical molecular diagnostic laboratories at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Dr. Ladanyi established rapid and sensitive EGFR mutation detection assays that allowed early implementation of tumor mutation testing, making the discovery of EGFR mutations in lung cancer immediately relevant to the routine care of lung cancer the tumors from more than 2,800 lung cancer patients for EGFR mutations, allowing for optimal treatment selection. Beyond EGFR mutation testing, which has become the new standard of care for patients with lung adenocarcinoma, Dr. Ladanyi has also been a leader in major efforts to introduce into routine practice even broader large scale screening of lung cancer tumor specimens for additional mutations that can be targets for new drugs, and his lead is now being followed by groups worldwide. Aside from his efforts in translating key scientific discoveries into clinical care, he also directs a basic research laboratory that focuses on understanding the distinct molecular subtypes of lung cancer using the tools of cancer genomics and molecular biology.

Eric Haura, MD
H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute

2008 Recipient

Dr. Haura is studying how mutated proteins in lung cells cause cancer. He is developing new drugs that will kill cancer cells by specifically blocking the function of these abnormal proteins. In particular, his work continues to focus on tyrosine kinase signaling pathways in lung cancer. The main focus is on STAT signaling pathways as well as SRC pathways, and preclinical and clinical studies are underway to better understand how inhibitors of these pathways may kill lung cancer cells. Finally, he and his team are invested in applying systems biology to understanding cancer signaling networks and how drugs impact these networks.

Pasi Jänne, MD, PhD
Harvard Medical School
Dana-Farber Cancer Center

2007 Recipient

Dr. Jänne’s main research interests include the study of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutations in non-small cell lung cancer and their impact on the efficacy of EGFR-targeted therapeutic agents. EGFR mutations occur primarily in never smokers. These patients have very high response rates to EGFR inhibitors. Dr. Jänne’s lab has studied mechanisms of developing resistance to EGFR inhibitors and novel ways to overcome this resistance, especially using irreversible pan erbB inhibitors that bind receptors with resistance mutations in EGFR such as T790m.
William Pao, MD, PhD
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

2007 Recipient

Dr. Pao’s primary interest lies in identifying mutations in genes that may play a role in lung tumors. He is also studying why some patients and not others respond to targeted therapies such as gefitinib (Iressa) and erlotinib (Tarceva). Dr. Pao first reported the link between EGFR mutations and EGFR TKI response in never smokers. He also described the relationship between the amount of cigarette smoking and EGFR and KRAS mutations and discovered the causes of relapse in never-smoking patients with initial benefit from gefitinib and erlotinib.

Dr. Pao is currently Professor of Medicine, Cancer Biology, & Pathology/Microbiology/Immunology and Director, Division of Hematology and Oncology at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.