Meet Lung Cancer Initiative's 2020-2021 Research Fellowship Recipients

Lung Cancer Initiative (LCI) is very proud to introduce you to the 2020-2021 Lung Cancer Research Fellowship Grant recipients. Each grantee will receive $25,000 and was selected based on the measurable impact of their proposal and commitment to the lung cancer field. Among the applicants, Shetal Patel, MD, PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was named this year’s Lung Cancer Initiative Outstanding Fellow Applicant.  

The 2020-2021 Research Fellowship Grant recipients are: 


Shetal Patel, MD, PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


Project: “Combination Strategies Targeting Myeloid Cells in Squamous Lung Cancer.” 


Dr. Patel will seek to understand the role of innate immune checkpoints in lung cancer treatment response.


Anna Ivanina, PhD, Levine Cancer Institute


Project: “Using Phosphodiestase Isoenzymes Inhibitors to Enhance Pemetrexed Activity in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer.” 


Dr. Ivanina will repurpose existing drugs targeting metabolic pathways to enhance the potency of a chemotherapeutic drug that is currently used in the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer.


Janardhana Ponnatapura, MD, Wake Forest University Health Sciences


Project: “Immunotherapy Induced Pneumonitis in Lung Cancer Patients: Role Of Imaging To Predict Long Term Outcomes.” 


Dr. Ponnatapura will study lung cancer patients who experience immunotherapy related pneumonitis and classify them into different subsets based on computed tomography (CT) findings.


Carolyn Glass, MD, PhD, Duke University Medical Center


Project: “Identifying Epigenetic Biomarkers that Predict Response to Immunotherapy in Lung Cancer Patients.” 


Dr. Glass will work to identify specific molecular epigenetic biomarkers that may be able to predict who and who does not respond to immunotherapy.


Suneetha Amara, MD, East Carolina University


Project: “Analyzing the Role of GPR4 in Immune Mediated Adverse Events in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer.”


Dr. Amara will study GPR4 as a biomarker to improve immunotherapy for lung cancer patients.


“We are pleased to be able to support the work of this year’s recipients and know how critical it is to continue their growth within the field of lung cancer,” said Amy Cipau, President and Founder of LCI. 


“It has been a particularly difficult time to continue critical research during the COVID-19 pandemic, and, we are dedicated to the continued advancement of this important work and to supporting the continued growth of each of these grantees.”

The purpose of the Research Fellows program is to further the development of local lung cancer care and research programs across the state of North Carolina. By funding research activities of fellows, LCI helps further their careers and encourage their continuing involvement in the field of lung cancer. This fellowship is provided for students who wish to pursue a career in lung cancer research, diagnosis, treatment and/or care. LCI fellowships are granted for one year and recipients receive a $25,000 per year stipend. Any questions regarding the submission process should be emailed to LCI’s Senior Director of Programs, Jenni Danai, MHA, at 

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