The Yale SPORE in Lung Cancer is the result of an $11 million grant from the National Cancer Institute in an effort to harness the strengths of academic cancer centers by bringing together experts in oncology, immunobiology, pharmacology, molecular biology, pathology, epidemiology, and addiction science to collaborate on projects focused on non-small cell lung cancer, one of the world’s most prevalent and lethal forms of cancer.
The Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) in Lung Cancer grant supports multidisciplinary research that extends from the laboratory bench to cancer patients in need. Dr. Roy Herbst, Chief of the Medical Oncology Program at Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven and Yale Cancer Center member, is the principal investigator of the multi-faceted project. The Yale SPORE will conduct projects in immunotherapy, precision medicine, drug development, and smoking cessation. Teams will also work to identify new translational research avenues, and train young physician-researchers for careers in lung cancer. Dr. Frank J. Slack, Director of the Institute for RNA Medicine at the Cancer Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, will co-lead a project examining microRNAs as therapeutics for lung cancer. Dr. Slack was formerly on faculty at Yale and retains a research affiliation.
Nearly 90% of lung cancers worldwide are non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cases, which are largely incurable once they become metastatic. While most cases are linked to smoking, experts are increasingly identifying mutations in light smokers and never-smokers that are treatable.
“The only way to approach a problem as big as lung cancer is to have experts in basic, translational, and clinical research working on several fronts taking the research from the lab to the clinic and back again to develop even newer insights,” said Dr. Herbst. "This effort represents tremendous teamwork by investigators to combat this very common and all-too-fatal disease.”
Yale is one of five institutions in the country with a SPORE devoted to lung cancer and one of 13 institutions to house more than one SPORE. The other program focuses on skin cancer.