Research is the key to lung cancer’s cure. New discoveries in lung cancer research, such as LCFA-funded research, result in new treatments for lung cancer patients. For the first time, experts are predicting that lung cancer can be converted into a chronic disease or a cured disease within the near future. New discoveries through lung cancer research make this prediction possible.

New Discoveries in Lung Cancer Research

The overriding message in lung cancer treatment today is that every patient needs a customized treatment plan. One designed for the exact molecular features of their tumor. Matching the right treatment to the right patient is improving outcomes for this disease.

Over the past few years, there have been revolutionary advances in techniques such as:

  • detection 
  • surgery
  • radiation
  • treatment protocols 

LCFA is committed to keeping you informed on the latest and most transformative lung cancer research.

These advances are increasing survival rates. Many of these advances are a direct result of clinical trials. What’s more, the median survival rate of patients participating in clinical trials is 3 times higher than the regular lung cancer patient population.

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Learn about these 5 Exciting Areas of Lung Cancer Research

Treatments that target specific biomarkers that are present in lung cancer tumors continue to have great success, especially in treating patients with:

It is recommended that all patients get comprehensive biomarker testing when they are first diagnosed.  A biomarker is a feature of the cancer that can help determine a personalized treatment. It is advisable for patients to discuss with their doctors how and when to schedule a complete panel of biomarker testing. This is preferably before any treatment is started. Comprehensive biomarker testing, specified in the NCCN guidelines, will provide the most complete assessment.  This assessment can help to determine the most effective treatment plan.

Immunotherapy is another very effective treatment option that uses the body’s own immune response to fight the cancer without damaging healthy cells. In the past few years, lung cancer research has yielded new medications that can be used to stop cancer cells from being able to turn off the immune system. This allows it to do its work in battling the cancer.

In addition, various forms of “liquid biopsy” are being studied that can identify molecular abnormalities of lung cancer without the need for invasive procedures. These specialized blood tests make use of readily accessible specimens like blood, saliva, or even exhaled breath.

Lung cancer research has rapidly advanced robotics used in surgeries, which allow for quicker recovery for lung cancer patients who have tumors resected. Board certified thoracic surgeons are able to remove the cancerous tissue with minimally invasive techniques, which allow for far smaller incision sites and more rapid recovery for patients.

Stereotactic radiation is a type of external radiation therapy that uses special equipment to position the patient and precisely deliver radiation to a tumor. Advances in techniques using stereotactic radiation allow for effective treatment of brain metastases.

New LCFA Research Grants


To date, LCFA is responsible for over $8 million in lung cancer research grants in conjunction with the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC).

A LCFA grant award is typically a  $200,000 grant awarded to a young investigator for work over 2 years. These significant awards allow researchers to set up and staff a lab and begin to amass the crucial data needed to attract add-on funding for the project from major funding sources, such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The Lung Cancer Research Grant Process

LCFA’s Scientific Advisory Board evaluates each grant submission and chooses to award the research funding to the “best science” proposals in each round of grant submissions.

LCFA grant awards have spanned many varied projects so far, with more exciting projects on the horizon for future grants. Currently, LCFA is funding several lung cancer research studies:

Dr. Jacob Kaufman photo

Dr. Jacob Kaufman

Research focus:

Dr. Kaufman is looking closely at lung cancers with mutations in the LKB1 gene, that are inherently resistant to immunotherapy. The goal of his work is to gain understanding of these mechanisms mechanisms involving LKB1 and ATM, in hopes that this may allow the future development of novel treatments in these patients.

Dr. Ramin Salehi-Rad

Ramin Salehi-Rad, MD, PhD

Research focus:

Dr. Salehi-Rad is studying the effects of a novel lung cancer vaccine that uses modified cells from the patient’s own tumor. The effect sensitizes resistant lung cancers to current anti-PD-1 immunotherapies, a novel immunotherapeutic strategies to treat lung cancer.

Dr Adrian Sacher

Dr. Adrian Sacher

Research focus:

His research focuses understand how the body’s immune system responds to cancer cells and developing new immunotherapeutics for lung cancer.

Vincent Lam, MD

Dr. Vincent Lamm

Research focus:

Dr. Lam’s research focuses on ALK+ lung cancer, which predominantly affects younger patients and those without significant smoking exposure.

Photo of Daniel Spakowicz

Daniel Spakowicz, Ph.D.

Research focus:

A study that investigates the interplay between the microbiome and immuno-oncology (IO) therapy responses to predict overall survival, progression-free survival and immune-related adverse events (irAEs) in lung cancer patients.

Photo of Jarushka Naidoo

Jarushka Naidoo, MRCPI

Research focus:

A study to identify whether a patient’s gut microbiome is implicated in their ability to derive benefit, or develop toxicity, from anti-PD-1/PD-L1 immunotherapy in lung cancer.

Photo of Dr. Kellie Smith

Dr. Kellie Smith

Research focus:

A detailed analysis of the immune system and how it changes upon treatment in never-smoker non-small cell lung cancer patients.

Photo of Haiying Cheng

Haiying Cheng, MD, PhD

Research focus:

A study that investigates the frequencies of the RICTOR gene in general lung cancer patients, whether its presence predicts brain metastasis, and why it is associated with brain metastasis.

Photo of Dr Zoltan Lohinai

Dr. Zoltan Lohinai

Research focus:

A study on how bacteria found in the gut might help scientists understand why some patients respond well to immunotherapy while others do not

Photo of Dr. Kathryn Beckermann

Dr. Kathryn Beckermann

Research focus:

A study that looks at T-cells in the bloodstream and determines if immunotherapy is helping this patient or if it is not.

Photo of Alice Berger

Dr. Alice Berger

Research focus:

A study using data from the Women’s Health Initiative to sequence every gene in the genome to try to identify biomarkers that might predict a potential to develop lung cancer or to possibly find patterns in biomarkers that might relate to environmental risks for lung cancer

Dr. Christine Lovly researcher SCLC

Dr. Christine Lovly

Research focus:

A study of Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC) which is looking to detect SCLC earlier, find those at risk for this type of lung cancer and, using liquid biopsies, to identify when a tumor is coming back earlier than would be visible on a CT scan.

LCFA grant awards help accelerate lung cancer research from bench to bedside with the goal of helping patients as soon as possible.

See how LCFA grants have pushed lung cancer research along

Dr. Kellie Smith, Johns Hopkins University and Dr. Alice Berger, Fred Hutchinson Medical Center, discuss how their LCFA/IASLC Young Investigator grants benefit their research.

Dr. Zoltan Lohinai, recipient of a lung cancer research grant from Lung Cancer Foundation of America discusses how to find funding with LCFA’s Diane Mulligan