SAN CARLOS, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation (ALCF), in collaboration with the Van Auken Private Foundation, announced the recipients of the first Young Innovators Team Award (YITA) at the Simply the Best Gala on November 8 at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. The newly launched YITA awards $500,000 to a team of young, “out-of-the-box” thinkers to conduct innovative, bench-to-bedside translational research that supports ALCF’s goal of making lung cancer a chronically-managed disease by the year 2023.
“This first-of-its-kind program funds research that will have an immediate impact on lung cancer patients,” said Bonnie J. Addario, stage 3B lung cancer survivor and ALCF founder. “Not only is lung cancer the least funded cancer proportionate to the amount of lives it claims, but it disproportionately attracts fewer young, talented thinkers because there is a lack of funding for research. We hope this award is the first step in changing that.”
After a rigorous, multi-level peer review and in-person presentations to the ALCF Scientific Review Committee, the Committee awarded the 2014 YITA to a multidisciplinary, cross-institutional team of innovative, young researchers, spread out across the United States. These researchers are Trever Bivona, MD, PhD (UC San Francisco); Jonathan Riess, MD (University of California, Davis) and Ryan Corcoran, MD, PhD (Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, Harvard Medical School).
“The idea of the YITA is to encourage out-of-the-box thinking and foster leadership skills among young innovators, instilling confidence in them to drive breakthrough research under a collaborative paradigm,” said Guneet Walia, PhD, director of research and medical affairs for ALCF. “We are proud to announce recipients who truly embody the multi-disciplinary, translational and cross-institutional spirit of the award, and will collaboratively work on a unique biomarker and drug target in lung cancer patients.”
Drs. Bivona, Corcoran and Riess will be working on “Targeting YAP Signaling to Enhance Survival Across Molecular Subtypes of Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer.” Their research will evaluate a unique drug target in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), identified in preliminary studies to be active in 20-30 percent of all patients with NSCLC, and a potential cause for resistance to therapy. Targeting the YAP/TAZ signaling pathway has the potential for profound clinical impact by improving survival in NSCLC patients, including those where targeted therapy is not used or is ineffective.
Based on the biological, molecular and clinical evidence generated from these studies, the results are likely to be translated into a precision/personalized medicine clinical trial for NSCLC patients to evaluate a new, targeted therapy for these patients.
This study holds the potential to impact the lives of not only lung cancer patients, but also those with melanoma, pancreatic, thyroid and colon cancer in which this signaling pathway plays a crucial role in tumor growth and therapy resistance.
“We are pleased to be awarded the first Young Innovators Team Award to evaluate a new drug target in lung cancer, and understand treatment resistance in lung cancer patients,” said Dr. Bivona, lead principal investigator for the 2014 YITA. “Our goal is to identify a new targeted therapy for further clinical development. This funding has stimulated and incentivized our team members to collaborate for the first time, and is essential for our team to conduct this breakthrough research.”
About the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation
The Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation (ALCF) is one of the largest philanthropies (patient-founded, patient-focused, and patient-driven) devoted exclusively to eradicating Lung Cancer through research, early detection, education, and treatment. The Foundation's goal is to work with a diverse group of physicians, organizations, industry partners, individuals, patients, survivors, and their families to identify solutions and make timely and meaningful change and turn lung cancer into a chronically managed disease by 2023. The ALCF was established on March 1, 2006 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and has raised more than $20 million for lung cancer research and related programs.
About the Van Auken Private Foundation
The Van Auken Private Foundation was established on April 17, 2008 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Its purpose is to make contributions, grants and provide assistance to other tax-exempt charitable organizations, in arts, science, medicine, education and worthy social causes.