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Two Young Women Lung Cancer Investigators Receive $200K Research Grants

Dr. Kellie Smith and Dr. Haiying Cheng

Lung Cancer Foundation of America (LCFA) and the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) have awarded a pair of two-year grants to support research that will help lung cancer patients lead longer, healthier lives. The grants were awarded to Kellie Smith, Ph.D. with Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD; and Haiying Cheng, MD, Ph.D. of Montefiore/Einstein Cancer Center in Bronx, NY.
Dr. Cheng's work focuses on metastasis: the spread of lung cancer to other parts of the body, especially the brain, leading to serious neurological complications and an even shorter lifespan. The RICTOR gene may define a special group of lung cancer patients where this gene plays a role in lung cancer-related brain metastasis. It is hoped that Dr. Cheng's research may find a way to interfere with the function of this gene with particular drugs called mTOR inhibitors and lead to new and more effective treatment for the management of this devastating problem.

Dr. Smith will focus on improving immunotherapy for non-small-cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) in patients without a history of tobacco exposure. These patients traditionally do not respond as well to immunotherapy as patients who were heavy smokers. Recent studies of immunotherapy in conjunction with or after chemotherapy have hinted that combining these treatments may be more effective in never-smokers. It is hoped that Dr. Smith's research will create new clinical trials that will optimize the immune system response to cancer in these patients.

"The partnership between LCFA and the IASLC is particularly exciting as both organizations have joined together to support groundbreaking research with a high probability of significant impact on lung cancer treatment. It is an honor to support both Dr. Cheng and Dr. Smith and we look forward to the results of their research," said AnnMarie Estrada, IASLC foundation director.

"We hope these research grants will lead to powerful new tools for treating lung cancer in never-smokers and patients whose cancer has spread to the brain," said Kim Norris, LCFA president and co-founder.

To date, LCFA and the IASLC have partnered to fund nearly $3.5 million in research grants.

For more details about the two organizations' grant programs, visit or