First-Ever Scientific Research Awards Funded by ALK Positive in Partnership with LUNGevity Foundation

ALK-positive lung cancer patients take matters into their own hands to fund research with the potential to save their lives
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Linda Wenger
(973) 449-3214

WASHINGTON, DC (June 4, 2018) — Patient support group ALK Positive and LUNGevity Foundation today announced the three recipients of the new ALK Positive Lung Cancer Transformational Research Award. This award, driven by ALK Positive—a group of more than 1,000 ALK-positive lung cancer patients and their caregivers in 41 countries—supports high-impact research that seeks to quickly improve outcomes for the 4% of lung cancer patients who have tested positive for a mutation in the anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) gene and has the potential to transform ALK-positive lung cancer into a chronic condition.

The ALK Positive Award represents the first time that LUNGevity Foundation, the premier private funder of lung cancer research in the U.S., and ALK Positive have worked together to change outcomes for people diagnosed with ALK-positive lung cancer. ALK Positive is the foremost group of ALK-positive patients to directly influence the direction of research that will, one day, save their lives. Each of these two-year awards is for up to $200,000, with monies raised by ALK Positive.  Although the awards are specifically for ALK-positive lung cancer research, they have the potential to benefit lung cancer research in general.

The three projects selected aim to understand how immunotherapy can be used for ALK-positive patients. To date, the success of lung cancer immunotherapy has been restricted to advanced-stage non-small cell lung cancer patients whose cancers do not have any driver mutations such as ALK. These new projects, which will uncover why immunotherapy has not been successful in treating ALK-positive lung cancer and test new immunotherapy approaches in ALK-positive lung cancer, include:

  • Characterization of anti-ALK immunologic responses in ALK-positive NSCLC: Mark Awad, MD, PhD, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
  • Overcoming innate immune resistance in ALK-rearranged lung cancer: Justin Gainor, MD,   Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Targeting the complement pathway in ALK positive lung cancer: Raphael Nemenoff, PhD,  University of Colorado Denver, AMC and DC

“We are thrilled to be a part of the grant selection process and fund such cutting-edge research in the field of immunotherapy for ALK-positive lung cancer. These projects represent the direction in which we want to go. Our voice matters because this research will impact the lives of those in our community,” explains Phil Trahan, president of ALK Positive. “LUNGevity has an exceptional reputation and is a major private funder of lung cancer research in the U.S. We are excited to partner with them on these important projects.”

“LUNGevity is proud to be partnering with ALK Positive to identify and drive research projects that have the potential to quickly improve outcomes for ALK-positive patients,” says Andrea Ferris, president and CEO of LUNGevity Foundation. “We’re excited that these projects combine the patient voice with the scientific rigor demanded of such critical research, and we are hopeful that they will lead to saved lives.” 

About ALK-positive lung cancer

ALK-positive lung cancer is found in about 4% of lung cancer cases and is responsible for approximately 72,000 newly diagnosed cases each year and 64,000 deaths each year worldwide. 

There is no proven or suspected association of ALK-positive lung cancer with any environmental toxins such as first- or second-hand tobacco smoke, asbestos, radon, or air pollution. There is also no proven or suspected association with any particular diet, obesity, or fitness level. About 50% of ALK-positive patients are diagnosed before the age of 50, about 65% are female, and the vast majority had an active and healthy lifestyle before developing ALK-positive lung cancer.

About ALK Positive

ALK Positive, a group of highly motivated, passionate, and dedicated ALK-positive patients and their caregivers, wants to drive change in the ALK lung cancer space. ALK Positive members are committed to raising funds for research to increase ALK-positive lung cancer patients’ survivorship. The three tenets by which they live are information, support, and empathy. ALK Positive members uphold these by providing information about ALK-positive lung cancer to each other; supporting one another around the globe to improve members’ physical and emotional well-being; and having empathy with each other because they share their lung cancer journey. For more information about ALK Positive, or to make a donation to help fund the ALK Positive Lung Cancer Transformational Research Awards, please visit

About LUNGevity Foundation

LUNGevity is the nation's leading lung cancer organization investing in lifesaving, translational research and providing support services and education for patients and caregivers. LUNGevity’s goals are three-fold: (1) accelerate research to patients, (2) empower patients to be active participants in their treatment decisions, and (3) remove barriers that patients face in accessing the right treatments. LUNGevity Foundation is firmly committed to making an immediate impact on increasing quality of life and survivorship of people with lung cancer by accelerating research into early detection and more effective treatments, as well as by providing community, support, and education for all those affected by the disease.  LUNGevity’s comprehensive resources include a medically vetted website, a toll-free HELPLine in partnership with CancerCare®, a unique Lung Cancer Navigator app, peer-to-peer mentoring for patients and caregivers (LUNGevity LifeLine), and survivorship conferences. LUNGevity also helps patients find and navigate clinical trials through our Clinical Trial Finder tool, a Clinical Trial Ambassador program, and participation with Emerging Med.

Our vision is a world where no one dies of lung cancer. For more information about LUNGevity Foundation, please visit