Researcher Profile: Timothy Burns

Timothy Burns

Timothy Burns, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology/Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, was awarded a LUNGevity Career Development Award. His efforts to develop personalized treatments in lung cancer have demonstrated his promise as a successful lung cancer researcher.

Studies have shown that non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients with mutations in a gene called KRAS can be treated with the drug ganetespib to shrink their tumors. However, many of these tumors become resistant to treatment. Dr. Burns is working to understand the causes of this drug resistance in order to identify new treatment strategies. Already, Dr. Burns’ studies have found one strategy—combining ganetespib with another drug—to be a possible option for overcoming drug resistance.

This award will support his continued progress in the personalized treatment of lung cancer and his continued growth as a lung cancer researcher. In addition to funding this research, the award requires Dr. Burns to participate in a structured mentoring program at his institution as well as become a nonvoting member of LUNGevity’s Scientific Advisory Board for the duration of his award.

This LUNGevity grant allows Dr. Burns to conduct a clinical trial to test the effectiveness of this new treatment in NSCLC patients with the KRAS mutation. He also plans to identify biomarkers that will predict a patient’s response to this combined treatment approach. By confirming that the biomarkers reliably identify patients who are most likely to benefit from this treatment, Dr. Burns is laying the groundwork for a tool to help oncologists provide effective and personalized treatment for lung cancer patients.