Meet LCI's Outstanding Fellow Applicant: Shetal Patel

Shetal Patel, MD, PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is the 2020-2021 Lung Cancer Initiative (LCI) Outstanding Fellow Applicant. Dr. Patel was selected due to her outstanding work and proposed research project, “Combination Strategies Targeting Myeloid Cells in Squamous Lung Cancer.”

Dr. Patel, who works with UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, is one of five recipients of the 2020-2021 Research Fellows Grant. Her research will seek to understand the role of innate immune checkpoints in lung cancer treatment response. Tumors are known for blocking T cell function, but they can evade immune recognition through upregulation of innate immune checkpoints such as CD47 too. Multiple drugs targeting innate immune checkpoints are currently in clinical development. Dr. Patel’s project will aim to test novel treatment combinations with the hope of improving immunotherapy treatment outcomes for patients with lung cancer.

“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 the research activities of five fellows per year, LCI helps further their careers and encourage their continued 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 Denai, MHA at

“I am honored to receive this grant from the Lung Cancer Initiative and look forward to working closely with LCI to improve outcomes for patients with lung cancer,” said Dr. Patel.

Annually, lung cancer claims more lives in North Carolina and the US than breast, colorectal and prostate cancers combined (Learn more FAQs about lung cancer here). Since 2008, LCI has funded more than $2.26 million in lung cancer research through programs like the research fellowship grant, health disparities in lung cancer grant in partnership with the V Foundation for Cancer Research, career development award and innovation grant.

Help us fund research projects like Dr. Patel's by attending the Evening of Hope Live Online Auction and Celebration on August 30. Registration is free and all funds and donations help fuel the future of critical lung cancer research.


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