“I think it’s important to try to learn the most
we can from patients. EGFR mutations were discovered because we saw a lung
cancer patient that had an unusual response to a targeted drug and then we
chased it down.”
– David Carbone, MD, PhD
As a young researcher just completing his MD and PhD at Johns Hopkins University in 1988, Dr. David Carbone was looking for ways to apply the latest tools in molecular biology. He wanted to make an impact. After attending a talk about cancer mutations, Dr. Carbone realized that lung cancer was inadequately treated and lung cancer patients could really benefit from genetic and molecular therapeutics. Since then, Dr. Carbone has been striving to improve lung cancer detection and treatment.
The results of his work have been far-reaching. From discovering factors that cause cancer-associated immunosuppression to developing serum protein biomarker tests, Dr. Carbone has made a tremendous impact on lung cancer. Armed with intense scientific curiosity and dogged determination, Dr. Carbone has published more than 150 peer-reviewed publications and review articles. He is often invited to serve on NCI grant review panels and his laboratory has earned continuous NCI funding since early in his career.
Now, as Professor of Medicine, Cell Biology, and Cancer Biology at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and as Director of the Thoracic Oncology Center at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, Dr. Carbone continues to be one of the world’s leading authorities on translational lung cancer research.
While Dr. Carbone is proud of his highly acclaimed research, he is equally proud of his relationship to his patients. “Over the years, there are many patients that I remember well. Patients that I could really help and those that taught me something about lung cancer” says Dr. Carbone.
He even credits some of his biggest research findings, including his novel discovery that EGFR mutations can affect a lung cancer patient’s response to therapy, to his close patient connections. “This guy came in for a Phase I trial and we were able to give him another year and a half,” recalls Dr. Carbone. “His family was so appreciative, that his wife called me when he was dying and helped facilitate a rapid autopsy. We found EGFR mutations in his tumor and reported it a year before it became generally recognized.”
Patients play a major role in Dr. Carbone’s motivation and success. “I enjoy working on both sides of the street: treating and learning from patients and their tumors, and also working in the lab to help improve their treatments,” explains Dr. Carbone who is a member of LUNGevity’s Scientific Advisory Board. “I’ve believed in the importance of patient advocacy for a long time…The people at LUNGevity are dedicated and effective advocates and I’m honored to be involved with helping them.”