The lung cancer nonprofit organization LUNGevity Foundation is celebrating female scientists who are making history due to their passion, commitment and research efforts during Women’s History Month 2015. The four women distinguished this year are helping advance understanding, diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer in order to help reduce the burden of this disease affecting more than 220,000 people every year.
Denise Aberle, MD, Julie Brahmer, MD, Lecia V. Sequist, MD, MPH and Margaret R. Spitz, MD, MPH, are the members of the foundation’s Scientific Advisory Board who are being distinguished due to their contributions towards the advancement of lung cancer research.
“Today’s extraordinary lung cancer innovations and breakthroughs stand on the shoulders of these brilliant, hardworking women who joined the field when there were few promising options for patients with lung cancer,” said the president and chairman of the LUNGevity Foundation, Andrea Ferris in a press release.
“These pioneers built and fueled the momentum we are experiencing now in the field of lung cancer research and have helped lung cancer survivors live longer and better lives. LUNGevity is thrilled that, due to the leadership of these four, women continue to enter the field, driving innovation, pursuing new answers to critical questions, and inspiring hope within the lung cancer community,” added Ferris.
Professor and vice chair of research in radiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Denise Aberle was the U.S. principal investor at the major National Lung Screening Trial, a study that demonstrated the ability of reducing lung cancer deaths by 20% with low-dose CT scans. The major trial was a way of validating the diagnosis method that may help save the lives of thousands of people, leading to its implementation and insurance coverage.
The thoracic cancer director at Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center and associate professor of oncology at Johns Hopkins, Julie Brahmer, has been internationally recognized for her work in the field of immunotherapy using the immune system to kill cancerous cells. She was the clinical researcher responsible for the lung cancer portion of the phase I trial for the PD-1 inhibitor Opdivo (nivolumab), which was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for squamous cell lung cancer.
Lecia V. Sequist, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and attending oncologist at Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center – Center for Thoracic Cancer, was responsible for the development and implementation of clinical trials on lung cancer and has discovered types of tumors that change after treatment. The physician is now focused on studying drug-resistant lung cancers and is conducting biopsies to understand tumors’ ongoing alterations.
Margaret R. Spitz, a professor at the Dan L. Duncan Cancer Center from the Baylor College of Medicine, is an internationally recognized epidemiologist that has already studied the association of lung cancer and age-dependent incidence rates, as well as the impact of environmental and genetic factors. She was responsible for the development of a predictive risk model able to determine the genetic and non-genetic risk factors for the disease and improve early diagnosis.
The LUNGevity Foundation is committed to improving the quality of life and overall survival of lung cancer patients with community support and education for both patients and families, as well as fast-tracking research into early detection and trying to develop efficient treatments.