SAN CARLOS, Calif., Nov. 7, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Today the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation (ALCF) and the Van Auken Private Foundation (VAPF) announced the recipients of the ALCF-VAPF Young Innovators Team Awards (YITA). This year, ALCF-VAPF awarded $500,000 to two teams of innovative researchers; one developing technology to improve early lung cancer detection and the other creating probiotics to treat lung cancer.
"YITA supports the research of talented young doctors and scientists who are dedicated to finding a cure for the world's deadliest cancer," said Bonnie J. Addario, 14-year lung cancer survivor and ALCF founder. "We hope this partnership and joint award will unlock answers that advance transformative breakthroughs to help lung cancer patients enjoy long lives."
The first winning proposal by Drs. Harmeet Bedi, Bryan Hartley and Ben Berkowitz from Stanford University and the Stanford Byers Center for Biodesign, Diagnostic Bronchography: A Novel Approach to Peripheral Lung Nodule Diagnosis reimagines an older diagnostic approach with new technology that helps doctors see lung airways more clearly during biopsy procedures. The research team brings together expertise in pulmonology, diagnostic imaging and biomedical engineering to provide better biopsy precision that improves early lung cancer detection.
The second winning proposal by Drs. Nicholas Arpaia and Tal Danino from Columbia University's Departments of Microbiology & Immunology and Biomedical Engineering, Engineered probiotics for precision lung cancer immunotherapy, develops a novel bacteria-based cancer therapy. Combining their expertise in lung cancer immunology and synthetic biology, the investigators will design probiotic bacterial strains that find and attack lung cancer.
A panel of global lung cancer experts selected the winners following a rigorous peer-review process.
"These are two incredibly exciting proposals that address two important areas in lung cancer research. We know that early detection is the key to moving the needle on lung cancer outcomes, and the project from Dr. Bedi and colleagues shows great promise for improving diagnosis by helping doctors clearly visualize and access lung nodules," said Amy Moore, Ph.D., ALCF's director of science and research. "The proposal from Drs. Arpaia and Danino combines sophisticated immunology and bioengineering to create innovative bacterial therapies for lung cancer."
ALCF instituted The Young Innovator Team Awards in 2014 to encourage out-of-the-box thinking and foster leadership skills among young innovators, instilling confidence in them to drive breakthrough lung cancer research using a collaborative, cross-institutional approach. For its YITA grants, ALCF aims to fund research that is:
Out-of-the-box – creative, high-impact research that will typically not be selected for federal funding and shows potential for near-term benefit to lung cancer patients
Collaborative – research that fosters collaboration among young researchers who haven't worked together in the past, preferably across institutions
Translational – research with outcomes that can be quickly moved from research to patient diagnosis or treatment
Multidisciplinary – projects that bring together multiple academic disciplines and medical specialties to solve a problem in the field of lung cancer
"While lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer deaths, research funding is almost nonexistent because of the stigma that lung cancer is a smokers' disease. That's despite the fact that nearly two-thirds of newly diagnosed lung cancers patients have never smoked or quit decades ago," said Addario. "Through the YITA award and other research funding, we are striving to bring fresh thinking and innovative approaches to lung cancer research. We are grateful to the Van Auken Private Foundation for partnering with us in this effort."
About the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation The Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation (ALCF) is one of the largest international philanthropies (patient-founded, patient-focused and patient-driven) devoted exclusively to eradicating lung cancer through research, early detection, education and treatment. The foundation's goal is to work with a diverse group of physicians, organizations, industry partners, individuals, patients, survivors and their families to identify solutions and make timely and meaningful changes that turn lung cancer into a chronically managed disease. The ALCF was established on March 1, 2006, as a 501c(3) nonprofit organization and has raised more than $30 million for lung cancer research and related programs. The foundation has received four stars from Charity Navigator and has earned the platinum GuideStar nonprofit seal of transparency. For more information about the ALCF please visit www.lungcancerfoundation.org or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.
About the Van Auken Private Foundation The Van Auken Private Foundation was established on April 17, 2008 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Its purpose is to make contributions, grants and provide assistance to other tax-exempt charitable organizations, in arts, science, medicine, education and worthy social causes.