Doctors Kulkarni, Lito, and O’Donnell Receive 2015 LUNGevity Career Development Grants

LUNGevity Continues to Fund Rising Lung Cancer Research Stars
Media Contact: 

Aliza Bran
(202) 414-0798

WASHINGTON, September 2015 – LUNGevity Foundation today announces the recipients of its 2015 Career Development Awards, recognizing outstanding researchers and encouraging their continued pursuit of innovative work in the field of lung cancer research. LUNGevity Career Development awardees receive $100,000 per year for three years, renewable in the second and third years based on progress made. They also serve as non-voting members of LUNGevity’s prestigious Scientific Advisory Board for the term of their award.

LUNGevity is proud to award the following researchers with its 2015 Career Development Awards:

  • Rajan Kulkarni, MD, PhD, University of California, Los Angeles, who will study how circulating tumor cells can be used to develop a blood test for lung cancer early detection and to determine which patients will respond to immunotherapy or chemotherapy treatment
  • Piro Lito, MD, PhD, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, who will research a new drug that works efficiently to stop the growth of lung cancer cells with a mutation in the KRAS gene, which is found in approximately 25% of lung cancers and for which there has not been a successful targeted therapy to date
  • Kathryn O’Donnell, PhD, UT Southwestern Medical Center, who will investigate the protein PCDH7, which works with the KRAS protein, to determine how it promotes lung cancer growth and how it can best be inhibited

“It is an honor to work with and fund the most promising scientific minds in the field of lung cancer,” noted Andrea Ferris, president and chairman of LUNGevity Foundation. “The ideas and research that Dr. Kulkarni, Dr. Lito, and Dr. O’Donnell will develop throughout their careers will be a boon to the lung cancer world, and LUNGevity is very pleased to provide support that continues to keep young scientists in the field.”

Under the guidance of LUNGevity’s Scientific Advisory Board, a group of 16 prominent scientists and researchers, LUNGevity ensures that grants are awarded to the researchers whose proposals demonstrate the greatest potential for finding lung cancer at its earliest, most treatable phase, as well as extending and improving lives for lung cancer survivors.

In addition to the 2015 Career Development Awards, LUNGevity awarded grants in its Early Detection and Targeted Therapeutics awards programs.

LUNGevity’s Scientific Research Program is supported by the American Lung Association, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Genentech, a Janssen Research & Development Program Award, Upstage Lung Cancer, and individual donors.

For interviews with LUNGevity President Andrea Ferris and/or Senior Vice President, Research and Education, Susan Mantel, please contact Aliza Bran at (202) 414-0798 or

For more information on LUNGevity Foundation, please visit

About Lung Cancer

  • 1 in 15 Americans will be diagnosed with lung cancer in their lifetime
  • More than 221,000 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year
  • About 60%-65% of all new lung cancer diagnoses are among people who have never smoked or are former smokers
  • Lung cancer takes more lives than the next three leading cancers (colorectal, breast, and prostate) combined
  • Only 17% of all people diagnosed with lung cancer will survive 5 years or more, BUT if it’s caught before it spreads, the chance for 5-year survival improves dramatically