DoM Faculty Receives Million Research Partnership to Intercept Lung Cancer From American Lung Association and the LUNGevity Foundation

WASHINGTON, DC (April 9, 2024) – Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, with someone diagnosed approximately every two minutes. In a collaborative effort to end this devastating disease, the American Lung Association and LUNGevity Foundation have joined forces to invest $3 million over the next three years in research aimed at intercepting lung cancer – catching precancerous cells and blocking them from turning into cancer cells.

This ongoing partnership brings together leading scientists dedicated to investigating early molecular and other changes that lead to cancer development, with the ultimate goal of stopping lung cancer before it begins. By focusing on early detection and intervention, the research aims to significantly improve survival rates and outcomes for patients.

“Early detection of lung cancer is crucial to saving lives. By investing in research to intercept lung cancer at its earliest stages, we have the potential to revolutionize how we approach this disease and improve outcomes for patients,” said Harold Wimmer, president and CEO of the American Lung Association.

“Continuing our partnership with the American Lung Association to help stage-shift lung cancer underscores our commitment to advancing research that will make a tangible difference in the lives of those affected by the disease. Together, we are harnessing the power of scientific innovation to drive progress in interception strategies and potentially cure lung cancer,” said Andrea Ferris, president and CEO of LUNGevity Foundation.

The partnership will fund research co-led by Avrum Spira, MD, MSc, and Steven Dubinett, MD, PhD, under the project titled “Intercept Lung Cancer Through Immune, Imaging & Molecular Evaluation InTIME.” This research aims to establish a timeline of precancerous cell evolution into malignant cancer, utilizing cutting-edge technologies such as robot-assisted bronchoscopy to collect longitudinal samples from patients suspected to have lung cancer. Dr. Spira, Global Head of Interventional Oncology at Johnson & Johnson and Professor of Medicine at Boston University, and Dr. Dubinett, Dean of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, are leaders in the field of lung cancer research.

“This project represents an evolution of our ongoing efforts to understand and intercept lung cancer before it progresses,” said Dr. Spira. “By unraveling the molecular and immune mechanisms underlying lung cancer development, we can develop targeted strategies for early detection and intervention.”

The partnership builds upon previous collaborations, including research funded by the American Lung Association, LUNGevity Foundation, and Stand Up To Cancer, which has yielded significant findings in lung cancer interception. Notable achievements include mapping the precancer genome, the discovery of enzymes and proteins associated with premalignant cells, and offering potential targets for treatment, as well as insights into immune cell activity in premalignant lesions. Partial funding was provided by the Thomas G. Labreque Foundation.

Through initiatives like the American Lung Association Research Institute Accelerator Program and the LUNGevity Early Lung Cancer Center, this partnership aims to accelerate progress in lung cancer interception research and pave the way for personalized treatments for patients.

For more information on the American Lung Association and LUNGevity Foundation, visit and


About LUNGevity Foundation

LUNGevity, the nation’s leading lung cancer organization, is transforming what it means to be diagnosed and live with lung cancer. LUNGevity seeks to make an immediate impact on quality of life and survivorship for everyone touched by the disease—while promoting health equity by addressing disparities throughout the care continuum.

  • Through research, we use an innovative and holistic approach to finding lung cancer earlier when it is most treatable; advance research into new treatments so people may live longer and better; and ensure a diverse, vital pipeline of investigators for the future of the lung cancer field.
  • Through advocacy, we foster groundbreaking collaborations to ensure all people have access to screening, biomarker testing, and treatment breakthroughs.
  • Through community, we educate, support, and connect people affected by lung cancer so that they can get the best healthcare and live longer and better lives.

Comprehensive resources include a medically vetted and patient-centric website, Patient Gateways for specific types of lung cancer, a toll-free HELPLine for personalized support, international survivor conferences, and tools to find a clinical trial. All these programs are designed to help us achieve our vision—a world where no one dies of lung cancer. LUNGevity Foundation is proud to be a four-star Charity Navigator organization.

Please visit to learn more.

About the American Lung Association

The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to champion clean air for all; to improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and to create a tobacco-free future. For more information about the American Lung Association, which has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and is a Platinum-Level GuideStar Member, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit To support the work of the American Lung Association, find a local event at


About Lung Cancer in the US

  • About 1 in 16 Americans will be diagnosed with lung cancer in their lifetime.
  • More than 238,000 people in the US 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 causes more deaths than the next two deadliest cancers (colorectal and pancreatic) combined.
  • Only 25% of all people diagnosed with lung cancer will survive 5 years or more, but if it’s caught before it spreads, the chance of 5-year survival improves dramatically.

Original Press Release