“Research allows me to give hope to my patients
and show them what might be possible.”
– Lecia Sequist, MD, MPH
Dr. Lecia Sequist is a clinical trial guru who focuses her attention on lung cancer. From patient selection to data analyses, she routinely oversees 15-20 clinical trials involving lung cancer patients at any given time.
As an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and a medical oncologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, Dr. Sequist develops and implements clinical trials and correlative studies while also managing an active practice where she specializes in treating lung cancer.
Dr. Sequist’s concentrated efforts in lung cancer have already paid off in a big way. Her team recently published a paper with several remarkable findings. Among her incredible work, is data showing that some patients with certain biomarkers (EGFR activating mutations) changed their underlying type of lung cancer after treatment. When her team began the trial, the patients were diagnosed with adenocarcinoma, a form of non-small cell lung cancer, but when they were re-biopsied after treatment, the cancer had changed to small cell.
“This finding has made a big impact. It shows that we don’t know as much as we thought we knew about cancer,” explains Dr. Sequist. “The standard of care has been to get a biopsy at diagnosis and then treat the cancer on that basis moving forward, but we may be missing a lot of changes that happen throughout treatment.”
Her groundbreaking work in this area continues today. Dr. Sequist and her team are utilizing repeat biopsies to learn more about drug-resistant tumors. “Drugs that work well in lung cancer only tend to be effective for about a year. We’ve been working on how that resistance happens by doing repeat biopsies to study the on-going changes in the tumors. This work helps in understanding the process of drug resistance and in caring for patients.”
For Dr. Sequist, patients and their loved ones are the reason for her dedication to lung cancer. “I find it very rewarding to split time between patient care and research. My patients drive me to do the research, for sure. Seeing what they go through with their families motivates me to work harder and faster so others don’t have to go through it.”
Even a stellar researcher like Dr. Sequist has felt the scarcity in funding for lung cancer grants. “For many investigators, especially young investigators, like myself, it’s very challenging to get government funding.”
As a proud member of LUNGevity’s Scientific Advisory Board, Dr. Sequist helps to ensure that LUNGevity funds the most promising translational research projects. And that is very important to her, she says. “Research allows me to give hope to my patients and show them what might be possible.”