Award Recipients

Lung Cancer Initiative Awards $175,000 to Two Researchers

January 24, 2024

(Raleigh, NC) Lung Cancer Initiative (LCI) has recently awarded lung cancer research grants totaling $175,000 to two local researchers.  Grants include LCI’s annual $150,000 Career Development Award and one $25,000 Innovation in Lung Cancer Research Award.

“We are pleased to be able to support each of these researchers and their important work in the field of lung cancer,” said Jennifer Garst, MD, Board Chair, Lung Cancer Initiative.  “Research has brought about many exciting new advancements in lung cancer, and it is our goal to support researchers so they can grow and pursue even greater breakthroughs that will impact the care of people with lung cancer in the future.”

Lung Cancer Initiative’s Research Program

Since 2008, LCI has funded more than $3.3 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.  Last year, LCI also awarded five $25,000 Lung Cancer Research Fellowship grants for 2023-24.

In 2023, LCI also partnered with LUNGevity Foundation on a three-year $300,000 Career Development Award.

Vicky Amidon Innovation in Lung Cancer Research Award

Through the $25,000, one year Vicky Amidon Innovation in Lung Cancer Research Grant, LCI aims to recognize and provide research funding for innovative lung cancer projects that will improve the lives of those diagnosed with lung cancer in North Carolina. 

This year’s Vicky Amidon Innovation in Lung Cancer Research Award recipient is Kerui Wu, PhD, University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Dr. Wu was awarded for his project “Designing Intelligent Nanovesicles for Artificial Antigen Presentation in Lung Cancer Immunotherapy”. “Lung cancer is a serious and often deadly disease that affects many people in the US and worldwide. One promising approach to treating lung cancer is immunotherapy, which harnesses the power of the immune system to fight cancer cells,”said Dr. Wu.

Career Development Award 

Through the $150,000, two-year Career Development Grant, LCI supports emerging research leaders who plan to continue their career in the field of lung cancer. The researcher’s project must be focused on basic scientific research to impact lung cancer care, including prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship. 

This year’s Career Development Award recipient is Justin Milner, PhD, University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center in Chapel Hill. Dr. Milner was awarded for his project “Engineering durable and effective T-cell responses against lung cancer.” 

“Completion of this project will yield two important outcomes: 1) provide important insight into therapeutic approaches that will allow us to unleash powerful ACT (adoptive cell therapy) responses in patients with lung cancer, and 2) will launch my career as a tumor immunologist specializing in strategies for tailoring immunotherapies to treat lung cancer,” said Dr. Milner.


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