Vanderbilt University

Christine Lovly, MD, PhD, assistant professor of Medicine, has received a $200,000 grant to support promising new research on lung cancer.

The Lung Cancer Foundation of America (LCFA) and the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) have partnered to fund the Lori Monroe Scholarship for Lung Cancer Research.

“I am honored to receive this grant award in support of our work to identify lung cancer at an earlier stage and to monitor disease progression to determine if a therapy is working,” Lovly said.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-associated death in the United States, with more than 222,000 new cases diagnosed in 2017 and more than 155,000 deaths. The disease is especially lethal because it is often diagnosed at late stages when it is no longer curable.

Lovly, who operates a research laboratory at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, has focused on early detection of lung cancer and the need to develop novel diagnostic and treatment strategies for patients with the disease, including liquid biopsies.

Lovly recently helped develop a liquid biopsy blood-based assay used to identify specific gene mutations associated with the development or relapse of small-cell lung cancer. In conjunction with investigators at Resolution Bioscience, Bellevue, Washington, Lovly and her associates used circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) to monitor the progression of the disease using non-invasive methods. The analysis of ctDNA in several cases provided evidence of disease progression before it could be detected by standard imaging.

Lovly is one of two women to receive the new lung cancer research scholarship grants. The other is Alice Berger, PhD, assistant member of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and assistant professor of Genome Sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle.

To date, LCFA and the IASLC have partnered to fund more than $1.8 million in research grants.