Meet the researchers and past grantees

Alumni Supplemental Grant


The goal of this grant is to help lung cancer researchers advance studies that are already underway and where additional funding is necessary to cover the cost of unanticipated time or resources needed to further the study or expand the original aims of the study.

All researchers funded since our inception in 2008 are eligible to apply for any ongoing research needs either related or not related to their specific projects funded by LCI.  Investigators may apply for research into the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure of lung cancer.  Researchers may reside and work outside of North Carolina.

Click here for more information about our recent Alumni Supplemental Grant recipient and other funded research awards.

Applications are currently closed for this grant.

Research Fellows Program Recipients:

The LCI Research Fellowship program annually provides five $25,000 one-year fellowship grants for students who wish to pursue a career in lung cancer research, diagnosis, treatment and/or care.

Career Development Grant Recipients

Through Lung Cancer Initiative’s Career Development Grant, LCI aims to support and provide research funding to emerging research leaders who plan to continue their career in the field of lung cancer. Prior recipients of the Career Development Grant include:

Thomas Lycan, DO, MHS
Wake Forest University Health Sciences

Thomas Lycan, DO, MHS
Wake Forest University Health Sciences

Emily Ray, MD, MPH
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Shetal A. Patel MD, PhD
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Emily B. Harrison, PhD
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Vicky Amidon Innovation in Lung Cancer Award Winners

Through the 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. Previous recipients of this grant include:

Limei Shen, PhD, UNC Chapel Hill

Cody McHale, PhD and Anna Ivanina Foureau, PhD, Atrium Health

Alan Chen, PhD, Duke University School of Medicine

Andrew Bishop, PhD, Wake Forest School of Medicine

Kenneth Adler, PhD, North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine

Hongwei Du, PhD, UNC School of Medicine and Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center

Salma Azam, PhD, UNC, En Fuego Therapeutics

REACH Community Grant Recipients

The REACH Community Grant Program awards funding of up to $10,000 to support community-based organizations and non-profit institutions in their collaborative efforts to holistically assist the entire lung cancer community, particularly those who are uninsured, underinsured, and most impacted. See below for a list of prior funded projects.


If you have any questions about funding opportunities, please contact our Chief Mission Delivery Officer, Jenni Danai.

V Foundation Partnership Recipients

2018 Recipient:
Jared Weiss, MD

Institution: UNC
Project: Targeting GD2 Ganglioside in Small Cell Lung Cancer

2017 Recipients:
Ed Kim, MD, FACP

Institution: Atrium Health
Project: Dynamic functional assessment of the host (vs tumor) immune system in patients with non-small cell lung cancer utilizing a novel blood-based immunokinetic platform

Qingyi Wei, MD, PhD

Institution: Duke
Project: Characterization of Functional Variants of GWAS-identified CRL-related Gene DCAF4 for Racial Disparity in Lung Cancer

2016 Recipient:
Jeff Clarke, MD
Institution: Duke
Project: Identification of Genetic Determinates for Disparities in African American Patients with Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
2015 & 2016 Recipient:
Chad Pecot, MD

Institution: UNC
2015 Project: Tumor Angiogenesis Regulation by the miR-200 Family
2016 Project: Targeting the Immune Microenvironment to Treat Squamous Cancers

Young Investigator Research Grants

In the past, Lung Cancer Initiative has funded lung cancer research through Free to Breathe’s (formerly National Lung Cancer Partnership) Young Investigator Research Grant Competition. Our support has jump-started the careers of researchers who have gone on to receive continued funding for their work from the National Institute of Health, Department of Defense, and the American Cancer Society. You can read more about the research we have funded through their program below.
2014 Recipient
Kavitha Yaddanapudi, PhD, University of Louisville

Dr. Yaddanapudi and her research team have made the discovery that a stem cell-based vaccine can prevent the development of lung cancer in mice. Researchers believe this vaccine targets special cells, called cancer-initiating stem cells, which are responsible for tumor growth and spread. With this grant, Dr. Yaddanapudi will further investigate how this vaccine works and evaluate its potential use in preventing lung cancer relapse, especially in patients with treatment-resistant lung cancers.

This grant was funded through our partnership with Free to Breathe’s Young Investigator Research Grant Program.

2013 Recipient:

Lauren Averett Byers, MD

Assistant Professor, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center

Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is an aggressive form of lung cancer that hasn’t seen significant changes to standard-of-care treatments in more than 20 years. With low SCLC survival rates, there’s an urgent, unmet need for new treatment options. In her previous research, Dr. Byers discovered that blocking a protein called PARP can help improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy for SCLC. But she has also found that tumors can learn how to adapt to PARP-blocking drugs. With this grant, Dr. Byers will examine how this resistance develops, and she’ll test new treatments that may help to overcome resistance to PARP-blocking drugs.

2012 Recipient:
Rinat Zaynagetdinov, MD, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow, Vanderbilt University

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a condition in which the immune system responds to an outside irritant, causing inflammation in the airway. This inflammation is an unnatural state for the lungs to continue to experience, and leads to a higher risk of lung cancer for people with COPD. Dr. Zaynagetdinov’s research seeks to understand how certain immune system cells present in inflammation, myeloid cells, promote lung cancer. This project is also investigating how a specific protein complex, NF-kB, affects the formation of those immune cells. Ultimately, this research could lead to new methods for preventing lung cancer, particularly in people with COPD

2011 Recipient:

Claire Simpson, PhD

Visiting Fellow, National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health

The risk of developing lung cancer differs between individuals depending in part upon the genes they carry and their exposure to cancer-causing chemicals and agents.

Genetic variation of a region on chromosome 6 appears to result in a greater risk of developing lung cancer regardless of a person’s smoking history. By determining the sequence of DNA in the region, Dr. Simpson may be able to find the specific mutations responsible for this increased risk. In addition, Dr. Simpson will continue to look for genes in other regions of the genome that may also affect lung cancer risk. Identification of gene markers indicating higher risk of lung cancer may ultimately improve early detection of the disease. Dr. Simpson’s research is supported by the North Carolina Lung Cancer Partnership.

Heidi Hamann, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

Lung cancer patients may feel shame and guilt related to their disease due to the stigma of lung cancer’s association with smoking. This stigma can negatively affect their care and treatment. Dr. Hamann is working to develop a way to measure lung cancer stigma, examine differences between what men and women experience, and study how stigma affects patients communications with their doctors. Learning more about lung cancer stigma will allow clinicians to directly address and reduce this stigma and eventually improve treatment and care for lung cancer patients.

Mark Onaitis, M.D.

Assistant Professor, Duke University Medical Center

Dr. Onaitis is seeking to better understand the complexity of lung cancer tumors by characterizing tumor-initiating cells and how they respond to certain molecular signals. He will investigate how the type and location of a tumor-initiating cell contributes to the aggressiveness of the cancer. A better understanding of the different types of cells within a tumor and how those cells are affected by cell signals could help develop more effective targeted therapies. This grant is also supported by the LUNGevity Foundation.