Lung Cancer

Current Projects
Chuan Li, PhD

Dr. Li is focusing on quantifying how different tumor suppressor genes interact to determine the mechanisms underlying cancer growth. Using mouse lung adenocarcinoma as a model system, she is developing high-throughput experimental approaches to quantify the combinatorial effects of inactivating tumor suppressor pairs. This approach may enable an in-depth understanding of the pathways that underlie cancer progression and potentially hint at new therapeutic targets.

Project title: "Quantifying epistasis between tumor suppressor genes and revealing the underlying expression profiles at the single-cell level in murine lung adenocarcinoma"
Institution: Stanford University
Named Award: Connie and Bob Lurie Fellow
Award Program: Fellow
Sponsor(s) / Mentor(s): Dmitri Petrov, PhD
Cancer Type: Lung
Research Area: Cancer Genetics
Piro Lito, MD, PhD

Therapies that directly target cancer-promoting oncoproteins have revolutionized the treatment of cancer. Cancers, however, are primed to adapt and evolve in the presence of treatment, resulting in an ability to resume growth despite the presence of therapy. Utilizing cutting-edge new techniques that allow the determination of genetic alterations in single cancer cells, Piro aims to understand the principles that govern the evolution of resistance during therapy and identify novel therapeutic interventions that halt this process. His specific focus will be on resistance of lung cancer and melanoma to BRAF-targeted therapies. 

Project title: "Modeling responses to targeted ERK signaling inhibition at the single-cell level"
Institution: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Award Program: Clinical Investigator
Sponsor(s) / Mentor(s): Neal X. Rosen, MD, PhD, and Charles M. Rudin, MD, PhD
Cancer Type: Lung
Research Area: Experimental Therapeutics
Vitor Mori, PhD

New technologies developed in the last decade have enabled chemotherapy to be delivered directly to lung tumors intratumorally in contrast to systemic delivery that affects the whole body. Recent studies have shown a partial or complete response ratio of 71% with significantly fewer side effects for patients treated intratumorally with cisplatin. Dr. Mori is modeling cisplatin pharmacodynamics following injections, taking into consideration the heterogeneity of the tumor microenvironment. This research aims to optimize drug delivery strategy to enhance targeting tumor cells while reducing side effects. 

 

Project title: "EBUS-TBNI of cisplatin optimization in heterogeneous lung tumors"
Institution: University of Vermont
Award Program: Quantitative Biology Fellow
Sponsor(s) / Mentor(s): Jason H.T. Bates, PhD, DSc, and C. Matthew Kinsey, MD
Cancer Type: Kidney and Bladder, Lung
Aaron L. Moye, PhD

Dr. Moye is studying early-stage lung cancer. Specifically, he is investigating the cell-to-cell cross talk between lung cancer cells and their surrounding microenvironment and how this cellular communication promotes early-stage lung cancer initiation and progression. Dr. Moye aims to discover secreted factors that can be used in diagnosis and to identify new targets for drug development that interfere with the lung cancer microenvironment.

Project title: "Role of Lgr6-expressing Mesenchymal cells in lung cancer initiation and progression"
Institution: Boston Children's Hospital
Award Program: Fellow
Sponsor(s) / Mentor(s): Carla Kim, PhD
Cancer Type: Lung
Research Area: Cancer Genetics
Matthew G. Oser, MD, PhD

Although small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is initially highly responsive to chemotherapy, the disease recurs in nearly all patients in less than a year. There are currently no approved targeted therapies for when the cancer returns. Previous studies have demonstrated that SCLCs require sustained neuroendocrine differentiation for survival, suggesting that targeting this process could be a good therapeutic strategy. Dr. Oser will use SCLC patient-derived xenograft models and a novel SCLC genetically engineered mouse model to identify new enzymes required for neuroendocrine differentiation and to develop targeted therapies that can block this process. He aims to identify molecular targets that could be developed into new lasting therapies for SCLC patients. Dr. Oser works under the mentorship of William G. Kaelin Jr., MD, at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston.

Project title: "Targeting neuroendocrine differentiation as a novel therapeutic strategy for small cell lung cancer"
Institution: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Award Program: Clinical Investigator
Sponsor(s) / Mentor(s): William G. Kaelin, Jr., MD
Cancer Type: Lung
Research Area: Experimental Therapeutics
Fangfei Qu, PhD

Dr. Qu is using Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC), a highly metastatic and lethal subtype of lung cancer, as a model to gain a better understanding of brain metastasis. Brain metastases are the most common type of intracranial tumors; they cause morbidity and mortality in a large number of cancer patients worldwide. The lack of preclinical models for brain metastasis has hampered our ability to better understand how primary tumors spread to the brain and grow there. She will first develop in vivo transplant and ex vivo human "mini brain" cancer models to study SCLC metastatic growth in the brain microenvironment. Using these models, she will determine the molecular and cellular mechanisms of metastatic SCLC growth in the brain. This research will suggest new targets for inhibiting growth of SCLC and other cancers at distal metastatic sites in the brain, paving the way for novel treatment approaches for cancer patients.

Project title: "Decoding the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying the growth of brain metastases"
Institution: Stanford University
Award Program: Fellow
Sponsor(s) / Mentor(s): Julien Sage, PhD
Cancer Type: Other Cancer, Brain, Lung
Research Area: Cell Biology
Rabi Upadhyay, MD

Immunotherapies using checkpoint inhibitors have shown amazing results in certain solid cancers. However, there are vast differences in treatment outcomes for patients who have remarkably similar cancers (based on histology and genetics) and many patients develop resistance. In addition, predicting who will benefit from the treatment has been unreliable. Recent research found that the diversity and specific quality of microbes that colonize the intestines (the gut microbiome) can impact the success of cancer immunotherapy, but there is no consensus about the underlying mechanisms. Dr. Upadhyay aims to build a mouse model of lung cancer that replicates the previous findings and then dissect the intricate biology between the gut microbiota and tumors in the lung. He plans to further define the cells and molecules involved, with the hope that more effective immunotherapy treatments can be designed for patients.

Project title: "Determining the distal effects of gut microbiota on the lung tumor microenvironment, cancer progression, and checkpoint blockade efficacy"
Institution: New York University School of Medicine
Award Program: Physician-Scientist
Sponsor(s) / Mentor(s): Dan R. Littman, MD, PhD
Cancer Type: Lung
Research Area: Immunotherapy
Natalie Vokes, MD

The treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) has changed dramatically with the development of immune-activating checkpoint inhibitors, given alone or with chemotherapy. However, most patients' tumors eventually develop resistance to these drugs. Dr. Vokes is investigating this process by collecting data on the genetic and immune features of pre- and post-treatment tumors. She will then use computational algorithms to integrate these features into a model that predicts which patients are likely to respond to checkpoint inhibitor therapy and also sheds light on the difference between therapy given alone or with chemotherapy. A better understanding of how tumors evolve resistance will guide the design of more effective therapies for all patients and improve therapy selection for individuals.

Project title: "Dissecting tumor intrinsic and immune drivers of resistance to therapy in non-small cell lung cancer"
Institution: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Named Award: The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research Physician-Scientist
Award Program: Physician-Scientist
Sponsor(s) / Mentor(s): Eliezer M. Van Allen, MD
Cancer Type: Lung
Research Area: Computational Biology
Dian Yang, PhD

Dr. Yang is examining tumor heterogeneity in search of new diagnostic markers and potential therapeutic targets. A tumor consists of not only cancer cells, but also immune cells, fibroblasts and other stromal components. The diverse cell types and cell states may promote disease progression and lead to therapeutic resistance, which is one of the greatest challenges in precision medicine. Dr. Yang aims to understand how heterogeneity is generated and regulated by using single cell functional genomic tools.

Project title: "Dissecting intratumoral heterogeneity and hierarchy at single cell resolution"
Institution: Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research
Award Program: Fellow
Sponsor(s) / Mentor(s): Jonathan S. Weissman, PhD, and Trever G. Bivona, MD, PhD
Cancer Type: Lung
Research Area: Cancer Genetics
  • You can support our innovative researchers.