Upstage Lung Cancer

Using performing arts to raise awareness and funding for lung cancer research

Research We Fund

Upstage Lung Cancer is proud to have funded almost $2 million in lung cancer research.

2016-2017: Early Detection

This grant was funded in part by Lungevity

Lida Hariri, MD, PhD
Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard University, Boston, MA


A tissue biopsy is often required to make a definitive diagnosis of lung cancer. However, because of small size and inadequate biopsy yield, early-stage lung cancer is often difficult to diagnose. Dr. Hariri is using a novel imaging technique called optical coherence tomography (OCT) to develop tools to guide tissue biopsy sampling to improve tissue yield. These tools will also provide additional diagnostic information.

Vadim Backman, PhD

2015-2016: Early Detection

This grant was funded in part by LUNGevity

Vadim Backman, PhD
Northwestern University, Evanston, IL

Ankit Bharat, MBBS
Northwestern University, Evanston, IL

Cells in the respiratory tract are usually stacked in an orderly fashion. As lung cancer develops, the cells get “un-stacked” and their shapes change, giving them the ability to grow and spread to other parts of the body. Dr. Vadim Backman from Northwestern University is utilizing a new technology called Partial Wave Spectroscopy for seeing those cells. With the Upstage Lung Cancer/ LUNGevity Early Detection Award, he will check how cells taken from the cheeks of stage I lung cancer patients reflect these early changes with the ultimate goal of using partial wave spectroscopy technology for early detection of lung cancer.

Stanford University, Stanford, CA

2014-2015: Targeted Therapies

This grant was funded in part by LUNGevity

Alejandro Sweet-Cordero, MD
Stanford University, Stanford, CA

Jennifer Cochran, PhD
Stanford University, Stanford, CA

Lung cancer cells depend on continuous cross-talk with other cells around them. Drs. Sweet-Cordero and Cochran will use decoy proteins to intercept and disable this essential molecular communications between the tumor and its environment, thereby destroying the cancer.

Barbara J Gitlitz MD

2014, 2015: Genomics of Young Lung Cancer Study

This grant was funded in part by Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation

Barbara J. Gitlitz, MD
University Southern California

Geoffrey R. Oxnard, MD
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

ALCMI is the sister organization of the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation (ALCF) and brings together some of the finest researchers in lung cancer throughout the world. As a result of this collaborative “think tank,” a project was directed to investigate the genomic profiles of young people, under age 40, with lung cancer.

Feng Jiang, MD, PhD

2013-2015: Early Detection Award

This grant was funded in part by LUNGevity

Feng Jiang, MD, PhD
University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD

Sanford Stass, MD
University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD

Dr. Jiang is identifying sputum biomarkers that could improve the process of detecting early-stage lung cancer by contributing to development of a non-invasive test that complements low-dose computed tomography (CT) scans and improves the accuracy of diagnosis.

Rebecca Heist, MD

2011-2013: Targeted Therapies

This grant was funded in part by LUNGevity

Rebecca Heist, MD, MPH
Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA

Anthony Iafrate, MD
Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA

William Pao, MD, PhD
Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

The treatment of lung cancer has been revolutionized by the discovery of specific targeted therapies. These successes have taught us that lung cancer is actually a multitude of different diseases, best defined by the specific tumor genetic changes. The project goal is to discover new targets that are critical for developing effective therapies to directly target those changes. Results of this two-year project show great promise in validating newly identified mutations for target.