Young Investigator Research Grants

In the past, the Lung Cancer Initiative of North Carolina has funded lung cancer research through Free to Breathe's (formerly National Lung Cancer Partnership) Young Investigator Research Grant Competition. Our support has jump-started the careers of researchers who have gone on to receive continued funding for their work from the National Institute of Health, Department of Defense, and the American Cancer Society. 
 
You can read more about the research we have funded through their program below. 
 

Past researchers include:

 

2014 Recipient

Kavitha Yaddanapudi, PhD
University of Louisville

Dr. Yaddanapudi and her research team have made the discovery that a stem cell-based vaccine can prevent the development of lung cancer in mice. Researchers believe this vaccine targets special cells, called cancer-initiating stem cells, which are responsible for tumor growth and spread. With this grant, Dr. Yaddanapudi will further investigate how this vaccine works and evaluate its potential use in preventing lung cancer relapse, especially in patients with treatment-resistant lung cancers.

This grant was funded through our partnership with Free to Breathe's Young Investigator Research Grant Program.


2013 Recipient

 

Lauren Averett Byers, MD
Assistant Professor, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
 

Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is an aggressive form of lung cancer that hasn’t seen significant changes to standard-of-care treatments in more than 20 years. With low SCLC survival rates, there’s an urgent, unmet need for new treatment options. In her previous research, Dr. Byers discovered that blocking a protein called PARP can help improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy for SCLC. But she has also found that tumors can learn how to adapt to PARP-blocking drugs. With this grant, Dr. Byers will examine how this resistance develops, and she’ll test new treatments that may help to overcome resistance to PARP-blocking drugs. Read more about this grant.


2012 Recipient

Rinat Zaynagetdinov, MD, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow, Vanderbilt University
 
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a condition in which the immune system responds to an outside irritant, causing inflammation in the airway. This inflammation is an unnatural state for the lungs to continue to experience, and leads to a higher risk of lung cancer for people with COPD. Dr. Zaynagetdinov’s research seeks to understand how certain immune system cells present in inflammation, myeloid cells, promote lung cancer. This project is also investigating how a specific protein complex, NF-kB, affects the formation of those immune cells. Ultimately, this research could lead to new methods for preventing lung cancer, particularly in people with COPD
 

2011 Recipient

Claire Simpson, PhD
Visiting Fellow, National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health
 
The risk of developing lung cancer differs between individuals depending in part upon the genes they carry and their exposure to cancer-causing chemicals and agents.  Genetic variation of a region on chromosome 6 appears to result in a greater risk of developing lung cancer regardless of a person’s smoking history.  By determining the sequence of DNA in the region, Dr. Simpson may be able to find the specific mutations responsible for this increased risk.  In addition, Dr. Simpson will continue to look for genes in other regions of the genome that may also affect lung cancer risk. Identification of gene markers indicating higher risk of lung cancer may ultimately improve early detection of the disease. Dr. Simpson's research is supported by the North Carolina Lung Cancer Partnership.
 

2010 Recipients

 
Heidi Hamann, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
 
Lung cancer patients may feel shame and guilt related to their disease due to the stigma of lung cancer’s association with smoking.  This stigma can negatively affect their care and treatment.  Dr. Hamann is working to develop a way to measure lung cancer stigma, examine differences between what men and women experience, and study how stigma affects patients’ communications with their doctors.  Learning more about lung cancer stigma will allow clinicians to directly address and reduce this stigma and eventually improve treatment and care for lung cancer patients.
 

 

Mark Onaitis, M.D., Assistant Professor, Duke University Medical Center
 
Dr. Onaitis is seeking to better understand the complexity of lung cancer tumors by characterizing tumor-initiating cells and how they respond to certain molecular signals.  He will investigate how the type and location of a tumor-initiating cell contributes to the aggressiveness of the cancer.  A better understanding of the different types of cells within a tumor and how those cells are affected by cell signals could help develop more effective targeted therapies.
 
This grant is also supported by the LUNGevity Foundation.
 

 

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