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Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s innovative lung cancer research program awarded $100,000 grant

Joan's Legacy
Joan’s Legacy

Joan’s Legacy grant will enable CSHL to build upon recent lung cancer discoveries

Cold Spring Harbor, NY — Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s (CSHL) researcher Raffaella Sordella, Ph.D. was awarded $100,000 by Joan’s Legacy: The Joan Scarangello Foundation to Conquer Lung Cancer. The two-year grant will fund CSHL’s pioneering lung cancer research involving a new class of genetic mutations that appear to be a trigger in non-small cell lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States.

The mutations, called epidermal growth factor receptors (EGFR), are more common in women than in men. This raises the possibility that interactions between EGFR and estrogen might be important in the development of tumors harboring EGFR mutations.

“Our research will build upon preliminary observations that estrogen provokes EGFR activity in non-small cell lung cancer,” Sordella said. “We hypothesize that normal estrogen levels prevent the development of tumors harboring EGFR genetic abnormalities, tumors harboring these genetic lesions may arise when estrogen levels decrease, as is the case with post-menopausal women.”

The Joan’s Legacy grant awarded to Dr. Sordella is part of a $1.2 million grant designated by the Foundation for twelve researchers conducting innovative projects at nationally recognized institutions like Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Over the past five years, the Foundation has awarded 36 grants, including those made in collaboration with other research-focused lung cancer nonprofits. A 2005 Joan’s Legacy grant awarded to CSHL researcher David Mu, Ph.D. enabled his discovery of three new genes that cause lung cancer.

“In 2007, we received a record-breaking 65 proposals for funding. This overwhelming response demonstrates how funding availability can stimulate the scientific community to focus efforts on this often neglected disease with its low survival rates,” said Joan’s Legacy President Mary Ann Tighe.

Lung cancer is the number one cancer killer in the United States, taking more than 160,000 lives each year. Yet lung cancer receives less research funding than almost any other cancer, making the work of Joan’s Legacy even more compelling.

Written by: Public Affairs | publicaffairs@cshl.edu | 516-367-8455

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About Joan’s Legacy: The Joan Scarangello Foundation to Conquer Lung Cancer
Joan’s Legacy is named for Joan Scarangello, a writer and nonsmoker who died at age 47 after a valiant nine-month fight with lung cancer. The Foundation is committed to fighting lung cancer by funding innovative research and increasing awareness of the world’s leading cancer killer, with a special focus on non-smoking-related cancer. For more information about Joan’s Legacy and lung cancer, visit www.joanslegacy.org.

About Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Founded in 1890, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory has shaped contemporary biomedical research and education with programs in cancer, neuroscience, plant biology and quantitative biology. Home to eight Nobel Prize winners, the private, not-for-profit Laboratory employs 1,100 people including 600 scientists, students and technicians. The Meetings & Courses Program annually hosts more than 12,000 scientists. The Laboratory’s education arm also includes an academic publishing house, a graduate school and the DNA Learning Center with programs for middle and high school students and teachers. For more information, visit www.cshl.edu