LUNGevity Announces Pierre Massion Young Investigator Awards for Early Detection Research

Two rising stars in lung cancer early detection awarded research funds in honor of LUNGevity’s first Scientific Advisory Board member
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Linda Wenger
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WASHINGTON, DC (March 23, 2023) – LUNGevity Foundation, the nation’s leading lung cancer-focused nonprofit organization, is honored to announce the recipients of the Pierre Massion Young Investigator Award for Lung Cancer Early Detection Research.

This research program was created in memory of Pierre Massion, MD, LUNGevity’s first Scientific Advisory Board member and a leader in the lung cancer space, to support underrepresented junior faculty members in the field of lung cancer early detection research. Each award recipient receives up to $100,000 for a one-year research project.

“LUNGevity's support of young investigators in Pierre's honor reflects his vision and work toward a diverse minority-supporting scientific community that strives for excellent and innovative scientific work.  He was passionately dedicated to patients, research, mentorship, and collaboration across disciplines, and these endeavors will promote his lasting impact,” said Tebeb Gebretsadik, Dr. Massion’s wife.

LUNGevity is supporting the following researchers and their early detection studies with the Pierre Massion Young Investigator Award for Lung Cancer Early Detection Research:

Lawrence Benjamin, MD
University of California, Los Angeles
Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine
Project Title: Comparative Effectiveness of Lung Cancer Screening Strategies

Dr. Benjamin’s research focuses on improving the rates of lung cancer screening. Currently, there is interest in “centralizing” lung cancer screening into self-contained programs or one-stop shops, with dedicated support staff and clinical personnel to coordinate shared decision-making, scheduling imaging, and arranging appropriate follow-up care. However, it is poorly understood how these centralized programs compare to “decentralized” screening that is coordinated by primary care physicians directly with their patients. Dr. Benjamin seeks to utilize nationwide longitudinal data from multiple lung cancer screening programs from the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System to evaluate and compare the performance of centralized versus decentralized screening programs, with particular focus on highlighting their effectiveness within various racial and income groups.

Jesus Ramon Ocadiz Ruiz, PhD
University of Michigan
Department of Biomedical Engineering
Project Title: Early Detection and Prognosis of Lung Cancer Using Bioengineered Implants

Dr. Ocadiz Ruiz aims to increase our knowledge of tumor development and improve our ability to identify and treat tumor cells in the very early stages of disease. He proposes to develop a bioengineered scaffolding and test it in mouse models.  If successful, this research could progress to a phase 1 clinical trial and lay the groundwork for a new technology to be used in individuals with increased risk of lung cancer. This technology has to potential to make biopsies and consequently, early detection, easier.

“These awards are a meaningful tribute to Pierre and his work in early detection,” said Charles Rudin, MD, PhD, professor, chief of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Thoracic Oncology Service, and chair of LUNGevity’s Scientific Advisory Board. “We are honored to be continuing his work with not one, but two important early detection projects to help build a world where patients can find lung cancer early, treat it and live.”

This award program was established in memory of Pierre Massion, MD, who passed away in April 2021. Dr. Massion served on the LUNGevity Scientific Advisory Board and was one of its founding members. He was director of the Cancer Early Detection and Prevention Initiative and co-leader of the Cancer Health Outcomes and Control Research Program at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in addition to his professorship and other senior positions at Vanderbilt. This award program combines his passions for mentoring young investigators in early detection research and for eradicating health disparities.

About LUNGevity Foundation

LUNGevity Foundation is the nation's leading lung cancer organization focused on improving outcomes for people with lung cancer. The foundation works tirelessly to advance research into early detection and more effective treatments, and to ensure that patients have access to these advances. 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 provides 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 better and longer 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 238,000 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 in the United States than the next two deadliest cancers (colorectal and pancreatic) combined.
  • Only about 23% of all people diagnosed with lung cancer in the United States will survive 5 years or more, BUT if it is caught before it spreads, the chance of 5-year survival improves dramatically.

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