Lung Cancer Research

Research provides hope and save lives. This is especially true when it comes to lung cancer research. Lung cancer research has helped in the understanding of how lung cancer is caused, how it works, how it can be prevented, how it is detected it and how the various types are best treated.

However, more lung cancer research is needed as not all our questions about lung cancer have been answered. Lung cancer still remains the leading cause of cancer deaths claiming more lives each year than breast, colon and prostate cancer combined. Yet lung cancer receives significantly less research funding than these other cancers.

The American Lung Association is committed to funding lung cancer research. As part of our Awards and Grants Program over 20% of funds go towards research on the prevention and treatment of lung cancer. The primary goal of this lung cancer research program is simple: To improve and save lives.  Yet, the secondary goal is just as important: To fund top-notch lung cancer researchers at important crossroads of their careers to gain long-term commitment to lung research. Without the life-long dedication of lung cancer researchers, important and much needed discoveries would be impossible.

Thanks to the medical breakthroughs led by American Lung Association researchers and their colleagues worldwide, our lung cancer researchers have made significant contributions to the field of lung cancer. Below are some of our current lung cancer researchers and their studies. To see our current lung cancer research studies, look at Research Awards Nationwide.

"This research will hopefully lead to much needed treatments for NSCLC and could not have been possible without the support of the American Lung Association."

– Ramesh Ganju, PhD


Ramesh Ganju, PhD
The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
Lung Cancer Discovery Award

Can an Enzyme Really Cause So Much Damage?

Almost 90% of lung cancers are non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).  For many patients their lung cancer becomes resistant to chemotherapy. The result is less than 20% of lung cancerpatients live more than five years after diagnosis. Therefore, it is very important to develop new lung cancer treatments.  Dr. Ganju’s research is looking at whether an enzyme can interfere with a natural brain compound that he believes can block the growth and spread of lung cancer.  These natural brain compounds, known as endocannabinoids, attaches to receptors called CB1 and CB2 found on cells that regulate the progression and spread of NSCLC to other organs and systems. He will test the ability of endocannabinoids to block the growth and spread of cancer and whether this process is stopped by this enzyme in mice.  The results of this award may lead to future lung cancer research that could lead to new treatments for NSCLC to help people live longer.


Christopher George Slatore, MD
Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR
Social Behavioral Research Grant

What is the Role of Depression in Lung Cancer Care?

Many people with lung cancer also suffer from depression and it can often be overlooked.  Depression can be treated well with established therapies. Identifying its role in lung cancer care could improve quality of life and decrease illness among the large number of patients who suffer from depression and lung cancer. Dr. Slatore’s research is looking at the relationship between depression and health outcomes among lung cancer patients such as the timeliness of care (meaning the time from first symptoms of lung cancer to treatment), receipt of recommended therapies and receipt of quit smoking services. This research could help cement the recommendation to screen for depression, as well as, offer treatment incentives to improve health outcomes for the large number of lung cancer patients with depression.


Jeffrey Engelman, MD, PhD
Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA
Lung Cancer Discovery Award

Can We "Teach" Cancer Cells to Die "On Time"?

Specialized lung cancer treatments called “targeted therapies” are increasingly being used to treat advanced lung cancer. These lung cancer treatments work by disrupting a process needed for a cancer cell's growth and survival.  However, some cancer cells are more resistant to targeted therapies.  Dr. Engelman is studying a protein named BIM which regulates programmed cell death. Past studies have found that lung cancer patients whose cancer had low BIM levels received less benefit from the same targeted therapy as patients whose cancer had high levels of BIM. His lung cancer research team is trying new ways to cause cell death in the cancers with low BIM. They want to see which patients will have the greatest benefit from targeted therapies, and to find other treatments that may work better against cancers with low BIM in order to improve the response to targeted treatments.