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Boston University researcher lauded for leading-edge lung cancer research efforts

(New York, NY November 2, 2010) Uniting Against Lung Cancer (Uniting) announces the "Caine Halter Hope Now Award for Lung Cancer Research."

This year's recipient is Avrum Spira, M.D., M.Sc., Associate Professor of Medicine, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and Director, Translational Bioinformatics Program, Clinical and Translational Science Institute, Boston University.

The annual Hope Now Award is intended for the research lab and its leader showing the most progress in lung cancer research in a particular year. The purpose of this award is to provide funding for and to recognize the demonstrated excellence of research labs seeking to develop medical treatments for lung cancer. Dr. Spira will receive a one-year award of $25,000 to apply towards lung cancer research.

The Uniting Against Lung Cancer Medical Committee nominated candidates for the award recognizing leading lung cancer research labs, with a specific individual as the recipient.

Dr. Spira leads the Pulmonomics Lab at Boston University. Using an array of bioinformatic approaches, including experimental, statistical, and computational methods, Dr. Spira's lab analyzes gene expression patterns in the airway and in lung tissue to non-invasively detect patients at high risk for lung cancer. Earlier this year, Dr. Spira and his colleagues identified a potential biomarker for early detection of lung cancer that can distinguish between smokers with and without disease, and reported a potential treatment for these patients that can reverse the changes in gene activity. This work represents Dr. Spira's continuing efforts to use advanced bioinformatics tools towards the early detection of lung cancer and to seek out novel treatments to improve patients' quality of life.

Lung cancer is the number one cancer killer in the United States: 160,000 people will die from lung cancer this year, more than breast, prostate, pancreatic and colorectal cancers combined. Yet, lung cancer is severely underfunded, receiving only 17% of government funding for these cancers. Uniting Against Lung Cancer provides funds directly for research, and has funded over $12 million to bring us closer to a cure.

Uniting seeks to fund innovative and novel research, as well as to support promising young researchers, allowing the scientific leaders of tomorrow to devote their efforts to curing lung cancer. The Legacy Programs fund critical research in early detection, improved treatments and a cure for lung cancer. In 2010, Uniting has committed $1.2 million in Legacy Grants to lung cancer researchers across the country. Uniting has also committed an additional $1 million to its continuing partnership with the Canary Foundation to find biomarkers for early detection of lung cancer in never-smokers.

Caine Halter was a healthy, 45-year old non-smoker whose life was taken by lung cancer in August 2007 after a valiant 13-month battle. Inspired by his courage and grace, Caine's family and friends are committed to raising funds for lung cancer research in his honor, so that others diagnosed may have a fighting chance to live. In 2008, The Caine Halter Fund for Lung Cancer Research began sponsorship of the Hope Now Award, which is now known as the Caine Halter Hope Now Award.


Contact: Jane Silverman
Boston University Medical Center

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