Dr. Steven Dubinett is a creative scientist. He believes in looking hard at the scientific data and then pushing his thoughts away from conventional ideas. He likes to work collaboratively with others who are willing to forge new paths in research, and it has paid off. Dr. Dubinett, Chief of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, is best known for uncovering surprising connections between inflammation and lung cancer.
His findings, which show how the body’s inflammatory response contributes to converting a normal epithelial cell into a lung cancer cell, are likely to have major translational applications. This kind of impact is exactly why Dr. Dubinett is interested in studying lung cancer. “It affords us the opportunity to do work that is scientifically based and reaches patients in a meaningful way.”
“Lung cancer remains underfunded in the United States,” explains Dr. Dubinett, a member of LUNGevity’s Scientific Advisory Board. “We have lacked the imagination about what we may be able to do for patients who are at risk or who have lung cancer. Adequately funding research will make a profound impact on this major health problem.”
As a recipient of a LUNGevity grant, Dr. Dubinett has seen the benefits of LUNGevity’s thorough grant selection process. “LUNGevity is interested in getting meaningful results quickly,” says Dr. Dubinett, “and they are open to creative ideas as long as the ideas are backed up by solid scientific data.”
Over the past decade, Dr. Dubinett and his team have been studying the microenvironments surrounding lung cancer tumors. Their findings show that while early tumors often are asymptomatic and too small to be detected on imaging scans, they do alter the proteins and microRNA of the patient’s blood in order to encourage tumor development.
Dr. Dubinett, a pioneer in his field, has been investigating the use of these proteins and microRNAs as biomarkers for early stage lung cancer. Over time, this unique approach has come to be supported by a wealth of data from other laboratories as well. The team’s preliminary studies have already led them to develop a biomarker panel that accurately distinguishes smokers with and without lung cancer, and they predict that the blood test in development will have high sensitivity.
LUNGevity is proud to fund the development of this blood test that could detect lung cancer before it is too late.
Note: LUNGevity follows the gold standard process of reviewing and selecting projects for grants that is also used by the National Cancer Institute. Therefore, Dr. Dubinett was not involved in the review and selection of his research project for a LUNGevity grant.