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.
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.
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.
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
Claire Simpson, PhDVisiting Fellow, National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health
Heidi Hamann, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
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.