Lung Cancer Research Awards funded by ALK Positive Patient Group in Second Collaboration with LUNGevity Foundation

ALK-positive lung cancer patients continue to fund research relevant to their survival
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Linda Wenger
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WASHINGTON, DC (September 23, 2020) — Patient group ALK Positive and LUNGevity Foundation today announced the three 2020 recipients of the ALK-positive Lung Cancer Research Awards. This award, driven by ALK Positive—a group that has grown to 2,000+ ALK-positive lung cancer patients and their caregivers in 50+ countries—supports high-impact research that seeks to quickly improve outcomes for the approximately 5% of non-small cell lung cancer patients who have tested positive for a mutation in the anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) gene and that has the potential to transform ALK-positive lung cancer from an inevitably fatal condition into a chronic, or even curable,  condition.

The 2020 ALK-Positive Lung Cancer Research Award Program represents the second collaboration between LUNGevity Foundation, the premier private funder of lung cancer research in the U.S., and ALK Positive. The two organizations are working together to change outcomes for people diagnosed with ALK-positive lung cancer. ALK Positive is the foremost group of ALK-positive patients and is directly influencing the direction of research that will, one day, save their lives. These awards total $1,600,000 with monies raised by ALK Positive.

The three awards selected are:

  • Phase 1 first-in-human clinical trial with a therapeutic ALK vaccine in patients with ALK+ NSCLC: Mark Awad, MD, PhD, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
  • Overcoming bypass signaling to enhance clinical responses in ALK-positive lung cancer:  Ibiayi Dagogo-Jack, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Overcoming ALK resistance with covalent cysteine-reactive inhibitors: A. John Iafrate, MD, PhD, Massachusetts General Hospital

Two of the selected projects are clinical trials. The first is to test a therapeutic ALK vaccine and builds on Dr. Mark Awad’s 2018 grant aimed at understanding the antibody response against the ALK protein and to determine which parts of the ALK protein trigger an immune response. If successful, this would be the first vaccine for ALK-positive patients. The second clinical trial is to determine how to improve clinical response in ALK-positive patients by using combination therapies to combat acquired resistance to ALK tyrosine kinase inhibitors. The third translational research project is to determine a way to overcome resistance to ALK medications using a novel approach that targets the ALK protein for degradation.

“We are thrilled to be driving the grant selection and award process, and to fund such cutting-edge research that we hope will lead to new treatment options that can help fulfill the mission of ALK Positive to improve the life expectancy and quality of life of patients with ALK-positive cancer worldwide. These three projects, including the first-ever lung cancer clinical trials funded by a patient-driven organization, represent the direction in which we want to go. Our ALK Positive ‘family’ raised the $1.6M to fund this research that will impact the lives of patients worldwide,” explains Colin Barton, Chair of the ALK Positive Medical Committee. “LUNGevity has an exceptional reputation and is a major private funder of lung cancer research in the U.S. We are excited to partner with them on these important projects.”

“LUNGevity is proud to be partnering with ALK Positive to identify and drive research projects that have the potential to quickly improve outcomes for ALK-positive patients,” says Upal Basu Roy, Vice President of Research at LUNGevity Foundation. “We’re excited that these projects combine the patient voice with the scientific rigor demanded of such critical research, and we are hopeful that they will lead to saved lives.”  

About ALK Positive

ALK Positive, a group of highly motivated, passionate, and dedicated ALK-positive patients and their caregivers, wants to drive change in the ALK lung cancer space. ALK Positive is committed to raising funds for research to improve the life expectancy and quality of life of ALK-positive lung cancer patients worldwide. The ALK Positive Support Group provides information, empathy, and support to ALK-positive patients worldwide. ALK Positive members provide information about ALK-positive cancer to each other; support one another around the globe to improve members’ physical and emotional well-being; and have empathy with each other as they share their cancer journey. For more information about ALK Positive, please visit

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 the 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.

Our vision is a world where no one dies of lung cancer. For more information about LUNGevity Foundation, please visit