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Shetal Patel
Shetal Patel, MD, PhD.

Lung Cancer Initiative (LCI) has awarded Shetal Patel, MD, PhD, University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, a Career Development Award to further her career investigating immunotherapy in lung cancer. The $175,000 two-year grant will fund Patel’s research in the role of myeloid cells in lung cancer treatment response.

“We are pleased to award this grant to Dr. Patel, as she is certainly an emerging leader in the field of lung cancer,” said Jennifer Garst, MD, LCI board chair. “As one of our former research fellows, we are excited to see the progression of her work and the potential impact it may have for lung cancer patients.”

Immune checkpoint antibodies have rapidly changed the treatment approach for lung cancer, but some patients do not respond to this treatment. Recent studies have indicated that metabolic factors in the tumor microenvironment may influence the function of multiple tumor-associated immune cell populations.

Patel’s research aims to understand how manipulating nutrient balance in the tumor with a glutamine antagonist impacts T-cell function and anti-tumor activity. By testing novel treatment combinations, Patel, an assistant professor in the division of oncology at the UNC School of Medicine, hopes to improve immunotherapy treatment outcomes for patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer.

“I am extremely grateful for the support of Lung Cancer Initiative as I work to establish my career in lung cancer research,” said Patel. “This grant will allow me to test novel combination strategies to treat advanced lung cancer, and hopefully improve long term outcomes for patients.”

Patel is a physician-scientist with a clinical and research focus on with thoracic and head/neck malignancies, with a specific interest in genomics and targeted therapies. She serves on the molecular tumor board for the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Targeted Agent Profiling and Utilization (TAPUR) Study and is a member of the National Lung Cancer Roundtable’s Triage for Appropriate Treatment Task Group. She was one of the 2020 LCI Research Fellows and was recognized as the Outstanding Fellow Applicant.

Through the Career Development Grant, LCI aims to support and provide research funding to emerging research leaders early in their career who plan to continue their career in the field of lung cancer. Grant projects are focused on basic science research with the goal of impacting lung cancer care including prevention, diagnosis, treatment or survivorship.

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, the Career Development Award and an innovation grant.

About Lung Cancer Initiative

As the state’s leading nonprofit organization supporting lung cancer research and education, Lung Cancer Initiative specializes in connecting patients, survivors and loved ones with the medical and research community. The organization’s mission is to advance survivorship and provide support to those affected by lung cancer through research, education and access programs. For more information, or to get involved, please visit the Lung Cancer Initiative website.