American Lung Association awards up to $200K to Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences Ph.D.

The American Lung Association Research Institute announced it awarded $13.6 million in research grants to fund 129 innovative projects to advance today’s science to end lung disease tomorrow, including a project from New Jersey. Jessie Yanxiang Guo, a Ph.D. from Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences and New Brunswick resident, was awarded a $100,000 Lung Cancer Discovery Award, which is renewable for an additional year for a total of $200,000.

Through the Awards and Grants Program, the Lung Association supports trailblazing research, novel ideas and innovative approaches. The funded researchers investigate a wide range of lung health topics, including asthma, COPD, lung cancer, infectious lung diseases and more.

“We are honored to welcome Dr. Guo to join the elite American Lung Association Research Institute and our efforts to fundamentally transform lung health here in New Jersey and across the nation,” Deborah Brown, chief mission officer at the Lung Association, said. “Our research investment is key to unlocking solutions to alleviate the burden of lung disease. The Lung Association’s Awards and Grants Program promotes innovative research, collaboration, translation of discoveries and scientific exchange to transform today’s science into tomorrow’s solutions. Because, when you can’t breathe, nothing else matters.”

Guo’s project

A significant portion of lung cancer is a type called non-small cell lung cancer, or NSCLC. NSCLC often involves mutations in genes like TP53, KRAS and LKB1, and patients with KRAS mutations tend to have poorer outcomes with standard cancer treatments. Metabolic changes play a role in cancer development, not just within cancer cells but also in the overall body metabolism. The ketogenic diet is a dietary approach that alters metabolism by shifting energy production from sugar (glycolysis) to fat (lipid oxidation and mitochondrial respiration). Researchers have explored the use of KD as a potential supplementary treatment for cancer. Guo’s project will provide insights into how a KD can impact the growth and treatment of different types of KRAS-mutant NSCLC.

“The ketogenic diet has garnered interest as a dietary approach in cancer treatment. We anticipate that the insights we gain from our study could serve as valuable information for the development of ketogenic diet-based strategies in clinical trials for treating KRAS-mutant NSCLC,” Guo said.