$500,000 to fund collaborative teams of young doctors and scientists dedicated to lung cancer research

Newswise — SAN CARLOS, Calif., Dec. 3, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer announced the recipients of the 2019 Young Innovators Team Awards (YITA) today. Two teams of researchers received grants totaling $500,000 for their work developing novel strategies to treat KRAS-mutant non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and examining the impact of age on development, progression, and immunotherapy response in NSCLC.

"The lack of institutional research funding for lung cancer creates a disincentive for talented young scientists and doctors to pursue research in this area, but we are working to change that through this partnership and joint award," said Bonnie J. Addario, lung cancer survivor, co-founder and chair of GOFoundation. "That is why we created the YITA – to support researchers who look beyond current methodologies of treating lung cancer."

Following a rigorous peer-review process by a panel of global lung cancer key opinion leaders, Drs. Yanxiang (Jessie) Guo and Shawn Davidson and Drs. Matthew Bott and Tuomas Tammela came out on top for their proposals titled, Targeting Tumor Metabolism to Improve Immunotherapy in KRAS-mutant NSCLC and Age-related Determinants of Initiation, Progression, and Immunotherapy Response in Non-small Cell Lung Cancer, respectively.

"These exciting proposals by talented young doctors and scientists address ongoing challenges in the field of lung cancer, bringing us closer to finding new treatments for a disease that takes more lives than colon, breast and pancreatic cancers combined," said Laurie Fenton Ambrose, co-founder, president and CEO of GO2.Foundation. 

Dr. Yanxiang (Jessie) Guo from Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and Dr. Shawn Davidson from the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics at Princeton University submitted the first winning proposal. Targeting Tumor Metabolism to Improve Immunotherapy in KRAS-mutant NSCLC examines the interaction of tumor cells and immune cells for growth of KRAS-driven NSCLC. To date, KRAS-mutant NSCLC has been largely resistant to most treatments. In an effort to improve outcomes and the efficacy of immunotherapy for patients with KRAS mutations, Drs. Guo and Davidson examine the metabolism of different cell types in KRAS-mutant lung tumor microenvironment to determine whether their hypothesis is correct in that cancer cell metabolism deeply affects tumor microenvironment and leads to an impaired anti-tumor immune response. The investigators' long-term goal is to implement strategies that can overcome resistance to immunotherapy in KRAS-mutant NSCLC.

Drs. Matthew Bott and Tuomas Tammela from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Weill-Cornell Medical College authored the second winning proposal. Age-related Determinants of Initiation, Progression, and Immunotherapy Response in Non-small Cell Lung Cancer explores the intersection of tumor biology, anti-tumor immunity, and aging. Specifically, the investigators' preliminary data suggest several important differences in the development and progression of lung cancer in young versus older individuals. Further, Drs. Bott and Tammela propose that lung cancer in young and older individuals represents two distinct diseases with different natural histories and susceptibilities to therapy. If true, these findings suggest the two age groups require different approaches to managing lung cancer, particularly with the use of immunotherapies that require a robust immune system.

"While we have seen recent progress in targeting KRAS, more treatment options are desperately needed. The innovative research by these two teams, particularly the proposal examining age determinants in NSCLC, complement our ongoing efforts to understand the genomics of lung cancer in patients under age 40," said Amy Moore, Ph.D., director of science and research of GO2 Foundation.

Five years ago the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation (which merged with the Lung Cancer Alliance in 2019 to form GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer) launched the Young Innovators Team Awards in partnership with the Van Auken Private Foundation. Designed to encourage out-of-the-box thinking and foster leadership skills among young innovators by instilling confidence in them to drive breakthrough lung cancer research under a collaborative, cross-institutional paradigm, YITA grants fund research that is:

  • Out-of-the-box – creative research that has potential for near-term benefits to lung cancer patients; high-risk, high-impact research typically not selected for federal funding
  • Collaborative  – research that fosters collaboration among young researchers who haven't worked together in the past, preferably across institutions
  • Translational  – research with outcomes that can be quickly moved from the lab to the clinic, or from the bench to bedside
  • Multi-disciplinary  – research projects that involve multiple academic disciplines/specializations in their approach to solve a problem in the field of lung cancer

About GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer
Founded by patients and survivors, GOFoundation for Lung Cancer (formerly the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation and Lung Cancer Alliance), transforms survivorship as the world's leading organization dedicated to saving, extending, and improving the lives of those vulnerable, at risk, and diagnosed with lung cancer. We work to change the reality of living with lung cancer by ending stigma, increasing public and private research funding, and ensuring access to care. For those interested in learning more, please visit www.GO2Foundation.org and follow activities on Twitter and Facebook.


CONTACT: Julia Spiess Lewis, [email protected], (916) 658-0144  

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