Drs. Michael Green, Jennifer Lewis, Manali Patel, and Harold Bien receive first-ever LUNGevity VA Research Scholar Awards

LUNGevity supports lung cancer researchers who serve veterans, a high-risk population
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Linda Wenger
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WASHINGTON, DC (September 13, 2021) — LUNGevity Foundation, the nation’s leading lung cancer-focused nonprofit organization, announced today the recipients of its 2021 VA Research Scholar Award. This is a new award program designed to support fellows who are affiliated with the Department of Veterans Affairs and seek to conduct lung cancer research relevant to the veteran population. Following the updated USPTF 2021 guidelines, an estimated 1.5 million veterans are at risk of developing lung cancer due to older age, a history of smoking, and environmental exposures during or after military service. Each year, the VA diagnoses 7,700 veterans with lung cancer. This new award mechanism is aimed at fostering junior researchers within the VA who are committed to research that improves outcomes for the veteran community. These awards are for a maximum of $100,000 over a two-year period.

LUNGevity is proud to support the following biomarker-driven 2021 VA Research Scholar Award projects:

  • Michael Green, MD, PhD, from University of Michigan/Ann Arbor VA — Addressing hepatic siphoning to enhance immunotherapy efficacy in veterans
  • Jennifer Lewis, MD, from Vanderbilt University/Tennessee Valley VA — Measuring provider engagement in lung cancer screening
  • Manali Patel, MD, from Stanford/Palo Alto VA — Ensuring precision-medicine delivery for veterans with lung cancer
  • Harold Bien, MD, from Stony Brook University/Northport VA — How KRAS mutations affect gene expression in lung cancer

"I am thrilled to see the first class of the LUNGevity VA Research Scholars,” said Drew Moghanaki, MD, MPH, who is a staff physician at the Greater Los Angeles VA Medical Center, Professor and Chief of Thoracic Oncology at the UCLA Department of Radiation Oncology, and a member of LUNGevity’s Scientific Advisory Board. “These four young investigators were selected because of the high quality of their proposals and their commitment to serve veterans. Their projects will further LUNGevity’s commitment to helping us improve the quality of care that we can deliver to veterans who develop lung cancer, often many years after their service on military bases and in the field of battle where they were exposed to various toxic and carcinogenic materials.”

Awardees are mentored by senior lung cancer experts at their own institutions as well as guided by experts from LUNGevity’s Scientific Advisory Board.

“LUNGevity has a long-standing history in funding early-career researchers through our Career Development Award program. We are delighted to announce our inaugural VA Research Scholars. By supporting junior faculty in the VA, LUNGevity Foundation hopes to provide support to these rising stars who are interested in thoracic oncology and dedicated to serving the veteran community,” said Upal Basu Roy, PhD, MPH, Executive Director of Research at LUNGevity.

Under the stewardship of LUNGevity’s Scientific Advisory Board, a group of 25 prominent scientists and researchers, LUNGevity ensures that its grants are awarded to those researchers whose proposals demonstrate the greatest potential for extending and improving lives of those affected by lung cancer. LUNGevity awardees are working on finding a better way to detect lung cancer and to better diagnose, treat, and prevent its recurrence. The Foundation’s overall research program is a crucial factor in moving the science forward to improve outcomes for people living with lung cancer.

LUNGevity’s VA Research Scholar Award Program is supported by Bristol-Myers Squibb. LUNGevity’s Translational Science Research Program is supported by Janssen, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Genentech, The Thomas G. Labrecque Foundation, the Schmidt Legacy Foundation, and individual donors.

About LUNGevity Foundation

LUNGevity Foundation is the nation’s leading lung cancer organization focused on improving outcomes for people with lung cancer through research, policy initiatives, education, support, and engagement for patients, survivors, and caregivers. LUNGevity seeks to make an immediate impact on quality of life and survivorship for everyone touched by the disease—while promoting health equity by addressing disparities throughout the care continuum. LUNGevity  works tirelessly to advance research into early detection and more effective treatments, provide information and educational tools to empower patients and their caregivers, promote impactful public policy initiatives, and amplify the patient voice through research and engagement. The organization provides an active community for patients and survivors—and those who help them live longer and better lives. 

Comprehensive resources include a medically vetted and patient-centric website, a toll-free HELPLine for support, the International Lung Cancer Survivorship Conference, and an easy-to-use Clinical Trial Finder, among other tools. All of these programs are to achieve our vision — a world where no one dies of lung cancer. LUNGevity  Foundation is proud to be a four-star Charity Navigator organization.

About Lung Cancer in the US

  • About 1 in 16 Americans will be diagnosed with lung cancer in their lifetime.
  • More than 235,000 people in the US will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year.
  • About 60%-65% of all new lung cancer diagnoses are among people who have never smoked or are former smokers.
  • Lung cancer takes more lives than the next three leading cancers (colorectal, breast, and prostate) combined.
  • Only 22% of all people diagnosed with lung cancer will survive 5 years or more, BUT if it’s caught before it spreads, the chance of 5-year survival improves dramatically.