LUNGevity has been celebrating Women's History Month by highlighting women making history in lung cancer research. These dedicated investigators, members of our Science Advisory Board and recipients of LUNGevity research grants, represent the important contribution being made by women in science.  

This week, we celebrate LUNGevity research awardees developing new treatment options for people living with lung cancer.


Rebecca Heist, MD, MPH

Massachusetts General Hospital


Identifying tumor genomic changes in lung cancers

The treatment of lung cancer has been revolutionized by the discovery of specific tumor genetic changes that drive the cancer and can serve as targets for therapy. However, approximately 40% of patients do not have an identifiable mutation. With her colleagues, Dr. Heist is focusing on this patient population, seeking to identify new targets for effective therapy.


Joanne Weidhaas, MD, PhD, MSM


David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Targeting KRAS mutations in lung cancer

Dr. Weidhaas is part of a team studying the KRAS-variant—a recently discovered KRAS mutation found in over 20% of people with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)—which has been shown to predict a patient’s response to cancer treatment. Their research aims to confirm the role of the KRAS-variant in order to direct cancer therapy for lung cancer patients.


Jennifer Cochran, PhD


Stanford University

Protein engineering to target tumor-stroma interactions in NSCLC

Lung cancer cells depend on continuous cross-talk with other cells around them. Dr. Cochran and her colleague will use decoy proteins to intercept and disable this essential molecular communication between the tumor and its environment, thereby destroying the cancer. They will also explore whether this system is a useful biomarker for lung cancer.


Christine Lovly, MD, PhD


Vanderbilt University School of Medicine

Dissecting the role of negative feedback inhibition in ALK+ lung cancer

A subset of lung cancer patients has mutations in a gene called ALK. Dr. Lovly will identify new molecular targets that can be blocked in combination with ALK inhibitors to overcome the resistance that often develops after successful treatment and to promote better responses.


Lauren Byers, MD


University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

PARP1 as a novel therapeutic target in small cell lung cancer

Dr. Byers discovered that patients with small cell lung cancer (SCLC) have an overabundance of a protein called PARP1, which helps repair damaged DNA. She has shown that adding a drug that stops PARP1 from working could kill SCLC cells in the lab, and that the drug improves the activity of certain chemotherapy drugs. Today, Dr. Byers is running a Phase II clinical trial in SCLC patients to evaluate the combination of this PARP1 inhibitor drug with chemotherapy, with the goal of developing PARP inhibitors as a novel therapy for SCLC.


LUNGevity will continue funding the people and projects that will accelerate the discovery of new treatments, bringing hope to lung cancer patients.

To learn more about LUNGevity research grants in early detection, targeted therapies, and immunotherapy, go to