2023-2024 LCI Research Fellows

2023-2024 LCI Research Fellows
August 7, 2023
RALEIGH, NC- Lung Cancer Initiative (LCI) is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2023-2024 Lung Cancer Research Fellowship grants… Read More...

LCI Awards $125,000 to Five North Carolina Research Fellows

Lung Cancer Initiative (LCI) is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2023-2024 Lung Cancer Research Fellowship grants across the state of North Carolina. Each recipient has demonstrated a measurable impact through their proposals and commitment to the lung cancer field. Each LCI fellow will receive a grant of $25,000 to continue their work and development. 

“Our goal through the Research Fellowship Program has always been to support young doctors in training with seed money for pilot projects in lung cancer. If we get them interested in lung cancer early in their career, then perhaps they will use that pilot project to get preliminary data to support obtaining additional funding through an NCI, federal or other larger grant to continue lung cancer research as a career. At the very least, these recipients will have more awareness around lung cancer as they continue their medical path, and at best, they may go on to become thought leaders in lung cancer research and care,” said Jennifer Garst, MD, Board Chair, Lung Cancer Initiative.

Since 2015, LCI has provided $1.02 million to 41 fellows through this program. Ninety-seven percent of fellows have stayed in the field of lung cancer.

From three leading institutions across NC, this year’s fellows and their studies are highlighted below. Fellows will present their work at LCI’s Annual Meeting in March 2024.


2023-2024 Lung Cancer Initiative Research Fellows

Jeffrey Jensen, MD, PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Project: “Genomic Deletion of Fusion Proteins in NUT Carcinoma of the Lung” (Mentor: Jared Weiss, MD) 

“This award from Lung Cancer Initiative is a generous acknowledgment that NUT Carcinoma IS lung cancer. We will use these funds to develop targeted, specific therapies for this devastating and essentially untreatable illness. Our sincere thank you to the Lung Cancer Initiative for recognizing this unmet need and for helping us approach this challenge.”

Ryan T. Morse, MD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Project: “Predictive classifier for intensive treatment of locally-advanced non-small cell lung cancer using competing event regression” (Mentor: Ashley Weiner, MD)

“With funding from the LCI grant, we wish to develop a predictive model that helps stratify patients likely to benefit from intensified treatment. Identifying a select group of patients with a high risk of cancer progression, and low risk of dying from other personal medical problems, may serve as the ideal patient population to explore intensified therapies in future prospective trials for lung cancer, aiming to improve survival outcomes for this devastating disease.”

Neelima Navuluri, MD, MPH, Institute for Medical Research (IMR) – Durham, Duke Health

Project: “Veterans Affairs Cancer Decision Aid and Referral (VA-CEDAR) Tool for Equity in  Lung Cancer Screening ” (Mentor: Scott Shofer, MD ) 

“I am so grateful to Lung Cancer Initiative for this award. It will be critical in helping us to identify and study interventions focused on shared decision making to improve disparities in lung cancer screening among Veterans in North Carolina.”

Sarah N. Price, PhD, Wake Forest University 

Project: “A Mixed-Methods Analysis Characterizing Sleep Disturbance and Symptom Burden Among Lung Cancer Patients Receiving Immunotherapy” (Mentor: W. Jeffrey Petty, MD and Kathryn E. Weaver, PhD

“I am so grateful to Lung Cancer Initiative for supporting this project and developing researchers like me who are committed to improving lung cancer survivors’ treatment outcomes and quality of life. With support from LCI, I look forward to conducting research that can inform the integration of symptom screening and insomnia treatment into routine care.”

Maria Mei Xu, MD, PhD, Duke University

Project: “SOX9 promotes a unique immunogenic state in small cell lung cancer (SCLC)” (Mentor: Trudy Oliver, PhD) 

As an aspiring thoracic surgical oncologist-scientist, I am driven to advance lung cancer survivorship through surgical insight and innovative research. I am very grateful for the support of the Lung Cancer Initiative, which will catalyze a synergistic and interdisciplinary means of collaboration and discovery throughout my ongoing surgical and cancer research training.

About Lung Cancer Initiative’s Research Program

Since 2008, LCI has funded more than $3 million in lung cancer research through programs like the research fellowship grant, health disparities in lung cancer grant in partnership with the V Foundation for Cancer Research, Career Development Award, and the Vicky Amidon Innovation in Lung Cancer Research Award.  In 2023, LCI is also partnering with LUNGevity Foundation on a three-year $300,000 Career Development Award.  Research that will be funded is expected to have a direct impact on the early detection of lung cancer and/or individualized lung cancer treatment, including targeted therapy and immunotherapy.

About Lung Cancer Initiative

As a leading non-profit supporting lung cancer research and education in North Carolina and beyond, Lung Cancer Initiative specializes in connecting patients, survivors, and loved ones with the medical and research community. The organization’s mission is to advance survivorship and provide support to those affected by lung cancer through research, education, and access programs. For more information and to learn about ways to get involved, please visit www.LungCancerInitiative.org


For more information, contact Paige Humble, LCI Chief Executive Officer, at PHumble@LungCancerInitiativeNC.org or (919) 784-0410.