We continue our celebration of Women's History Month by highlighting the scientists who are working to develop early detection tools for lung cancer. Like mammograms for breast cancer, a reliable early detection test for lung cancer would catch the disease early and allow treatment to begin when it can be most effective.

The results of the National Lung Screening Trial, a multi-year trial conducted by the National Cancer Institute and led by LUNGevity Scientific Advisory Board member Denise Aberle, MD, showed definitively that finding lung cancer in the earliest stages in high-risk individuals improves the five-year survival rate.

The women profiled below are LUNGevity Early Detection Award grantees investigating new avenues to detect lung cancer at its earliest stages.


Zeynep H. Gümüş, PhD

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai


Identifying germline risk mutations for early-onset and familial NSCLC

Each year, more than 22,000 people who have never smoked are diagnosed with lung cancer, many at younger ages. Dr. Gümüş, with Steven M. Lipkin, MD, PhD, and Kenneth Offit, MD, MPH, will identify underlying genes that could indicate a higher risk of developing lung cancer, similar to what has been found with certain forms of breast, colorectal, and pancreatic cancers. People who carry the high-risk genes could then be monitored more carefully.


Kimberly Rieger-Christ, PhD


Lahey Hospital & Medical Center

Katrina Steiling, MD, MSc

Boston University

Nasal biomarkers for the evaluation of lung nodules found by LDCT screening

The team of Dr. Rieger-Christ and Dr. Katrina Steiling, along with Jacob Sands, MD, is developing a minimally invasive test using nasal swabs to determine quickly and easily whether nodules found through CT screening are early cancer or benign lesions.


Suzanne Miyamoto, PhD, and Karen Kelly, MD


University of California Davis

A systems biology approach to biomarkers for early detection of lung cancer

Drs. Miyamoto and Kelly, with Oliver Fiehn, PhD, manage an interdisciplinary team to identify biomarkers in the blood that can be used in conjunction with CT screening for early stage lung cancer. They are examining biomarker compositions of tumor and normal lung tissue, along with blood samples from cancer patients, healthy individuals, and patients with benign lung nodules. The goal is to identify easily detectible blood markers that will contribute to earlier, more informative lung cancer detection and make tailored lung cancer therapy and increased cure rates possible.


Jennifer Beane, PhD


Boston University

Biomarkers of pre-malignant disease progression for lung cancer detection

Dr. Beane is seeking to improve the outcomes of chemopreventive therapies in high-risk patients. By using next-generation sequencing of pre-cancerous cells, combined with computational approaches to identify key changes, she hopes to predict whether the pre-cancerous lesions will progress. This information will help to select patients who will benefit from enrollment in chemoprevention trials.


Meredith Tennis, PhD


University of Colorado, Denver

Biomarkers for targeted lung cancer chemoprevention

Dr. Tennis aims to identify biomarkers that signal whether a patient is likely to benefit from iloprost and pioglitazone, two drugs that have demonstrated promise in reducing NSCLC risk, and determine whether they work in a clinical trial setting.


To learn more, go to www.LUNGevity.org.