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AACR and the Lung Cancer Initiative at Johnson & Johnson Announce New AACR-Johnson & Johnson Lung Cancer Innovation Science Grant Recipients

PHILADELPHIA – The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) and the Lung Cancer Initiative at Johnson & Johnson (LCI) today announced the latest recipients of the AACR-Johnson & Johnson Lung Cancer Innovation Science Grants.  

Established in 2018, this funding program is designed to support research teams that are focused on identifying transformative solutions to prevent, intercept, and cure lung cancer. This year, the program is placing emphasis on promoting and supporting collaborative work in emerging areas such as digital therapeutics, smoking cessation, biomarkers, and behavioral phenotyping. 

“Early detection and interception are key factors in reducing cancer incidence,” said Yixian (John) Zhang, PhD, senior director of Scientific Review and Grants Administration at the AACR. “We are very excited to continue this important grant program that will support two highly innovative studies that have the potential to not only reduce the risk of smoking-related lung cancer, but also promote smoking cessation through behavioral change.” 

“By focusing on the best science and innovation, our Lung Cancer Initiative aims to develop solutions that could enable earlier interception and improve outcomes for millions of patients worldwide,” said Avrum Spira, MD, vice president, global head, Lung Cancer Initiative at Johnson & Johnson.* “We are impressed by the caliber of the scientists selected for the AACR-LCI Innovation Science Grants as we continue to support this unique program in its second year, which will help us fight this devastating disease on a global level.”  

Grants will be awarded to the following multi-institutional teams:  

Paul M. Cinciripini, PhD, professor and Margaret & Ben Love Chair in Clinical Cancer Care in honor of Dr. Charles A. LeMaistre, at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center; and Charles Green, PhD, associate professor at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston, will lead a team focused on identifying genetic characteristics underlying differences in neural responses to nicotine that may predict smoking cessation outcome following the use of smoking cessation medications.  

Mary E. Cooley, PhD, RN, FAAN, nurse scientist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; Peter Castaldi, MD, MSc, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School; and Sun S. KimPhD, associate professor of nursing at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, will lead a team focused on developing digital tools to engage high-risk smokers in an innovative smoking cessation program to encourage behaviors that promote lung health and early lung cancer detection. 

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among men and women in the United States and the most common cause of cancer death worldwide.1 2 The five-year survival rate for lung cancer overall is 19.4 percent; for metastatic lung cancer, it is a dismal 5.2 percent. Lung cancer deaths are estimated to be 22.4 percent of all cancer deaths in the United States in 2020. About 6.3 percent of U.S. men and women will be diagnosed with lung and bronchus cancer at some point in their lifetime. 

1 National Cancer Institute, Cancer Facts: Lung and Bronchus Cancer
2 Union for International Cancer Control, Global Cancer Incidence

*Dr. Spira is an employee of Johnson & Johnson Enterprise Innovation Inc.