Early Lung Cancer Detection Researcher Granted Foundation’s First-Ever Award of $300,000

Early Lung Cancer Detection Researcher Granted Foundation’s First-Ever Award of $300,000

A first-time foundation grant of $300,000 was awarded to Robin Mjelle, Ph.D., for his innovative work in the identification, characterization and validation of lung cancer early detection biomarkers. Mjelle is a scientist at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s Department of Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine.

The Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation (ALCF) and the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) recently announced Mjelle as the recipient of the first ALCF-IASLC Joint International Fellowship Award for The Early Detection of Lung Cancer.

The ALCF-IASLC Joint Fellowship supports innovative, groundbreaking, and translational research that has the potential of highly impacting the early detection of lung cancer. “This first joint award between the ALCF and IASLC funds research that will positively impact lung cancer patients. Dr. Mjelle is a young, talented researcher whose dedication to lung cancer research is truly remarkable,” ALCF Founder and decade-long lung cancer survivor, Bonnie J. Addario, said in a press release.

“As the first awardee of the ALCF-IASLC Fellowship, Dr. Mjelle will be able to continue his research on early detection and diagnosis of lung cancer. This grant allows him to travel and train at a lab of his choice anywhere in the world to solve problems related to early detection of lung cancer,” she said.

Mjelle’s team in Norway plans to develop a risk-prediction tool that can assist the development of a serum poly-marker kit using the HUNT2 (1996 to 1997) and HUNT3 (2006 to 2008) population studies, which involved 80,000 subjects with a total of 190 clinical variables. For 65,000 participants there is now more than 15 years of follow-up data available, and more than 500 people have been consequently diagnosed with lung cancer, where diagnosis data and date of death is disclosed.

“Detection of lung cancer in the earliest possible stage is currently the only path to increase survival. The project ‘Cancer Biomarkers in HUNT’ aims to develop a blood-based biomarker for early lung cancer detection,” Mjelle said. “The project uses pre-diagnostic serum samples from the HUNT biobank in Norway to measure RNA, proteins, and metabolites in lung cancer patients and healthy controls. Having access to blood one to five years before diagnosis makes this project unique and enables the detection of biomarkers that could predict the cancer when it is still in curable stage. The 2016 ALCF-IASLC Fellowship Award will greatly benefit the progress of the project.”

An international scientific peer-review committee set by ALCF-IASLC was in charge of reviewing all applications and unanimously named Mjelle as the recipient of this year’s award. The fellowship program received a series of promising and relevant applications from researchers around the globe, all focused on the early detection of lung cancer.

“The work of Dr. Mjelle is recognized through this award because of the potential long-term impact of his research,” said Dr. Fred R. Hirsch, M.D., Ph.D., and CEO of the IASLC.

“Determining risk of developing lung cancer is empowering to the individual and can help in screening for lung cancer so early treatment and disease management can be achieved,” said Hirsch, a medicine and pathology professor at the University of Colorado Cancer Center who is well-known for his own research in lung cancer early detection biomarkers.

The 2016 Fellowship aims to identify excellent young scholars who are capable of delivering meaningful and measurable results for the early detection of this damaging disease and have a high likelihood of near-term benefit to its patients or individuals at risk of becoming patients, while providing an opportunity to learn new cutting-edge technologies that they can bring back to their home countries.

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