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Shetal Patel
UNC Lineberger’s Shetal Patel, MD, PhD.

The Lung Cancer Initiative of North Carolina has awarded UNC Lineberger’s Shetal Patel, MD, PhD, a 2020-2021 Research Fellows Grant. The one-year, $25,000 grant will support Patel’s research investigating the role of innate immune checkpoints in lung cancer treatment response.

Tumors are known for blocking T-cell function, but they also can evade immune recognition through upregulation of innate immune checkpoints such as CD47. Multiple drugs targeting innate immune checkpoints are currently in clinical development. Patel’s project will aim to test novel treatment combinations with the hope of improving immunotherapy treatment outcomes for patients with lung cancer.

“I am honored to receive this grant from the Lung Cancer Initiative and look forward to working closely with LCI to improve outcomes for patients with lung cancer,” said Patel.

The LCI Research Fellows program provide five grants a year with the goal to further the development of local lung cancer care and research programs across North Carolina.

“We are pleased to be able to support the work of this year’s recipients and know how critical it is to continue their growth within the field of lung cancer,” said Amy Cipau, president and founder of LCI. “It has been a particularly difficult time to continue critical research during the COVID-19 pandemic, and, we are dedicated to the continued advancement of this important work and to supporting the continued growth of each of these grantees.”

Annually, lung cancer claims more lives in North Carolina and the U.S. than breast, colorectal and prostate cancers combined. Since 2008, LCI has funded more than $2.26 million in lung cancer research through programs like the research fellowship grant, health disparities in lung cancer grant in partnership with the V Foundation for Cancer Research, career development award and innovation grant.