UPMC lung cancer researcher awarded grant
Dr. Timothy F. Burns has a personal and professional stake in the fight against lung cancer.
Burns, 39, a medical oncologist at UPMC Cancer Center and an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, lost his father to lung cancer when he was 7. Nine years later, his mother succumbed to the disease.
“Clearly, it is something that has affected my family. And it is a great area of need,” Burns said. Lung cancer kills more people every year than breast, colon, prostate and pancreatic cancer combined, according to the American Cancer Society.
Foundations that fund cancer research have recognized his efforts in his first year as a researcher at the Hillman Cancer Center with three separate grants totaling $700,000.
The latest, a $200,000, two-year Scholar Grant from The V Foundation for Cancer Research that was announced last month, helps promising young researchers advance their work.
Burns was among 30 researchers nationwide this fall who shared about $10.8 million in awards from the foundation established by ESPN and the late Jim Valvano, a legendary North Carolina State basketball coach and ESPN commentator who died of cancer.
Experts say lung cancer researchers have made great advances in recent decades, starting with the recognition that it is not just one disease, but a number of mutations. The ability to sequence different lung cancer mutations has allowed researchers to identify effective drug therapies for some variations.
But significant hurdles remain, including KRAS mutant non-small cell lung cancer. It accounts for about 25 percent of all lung cancers and thus far has proven resistant to drug therapies.
The V Foundation recognized Burns' work targeting the KRAS mutant.
“One of the things I am studying is resistance to the therapies we have in the clinic. What makes it work, what doesn't, and ways of trying to overcome this resistance,” Burns said.
Burns received his medical degree and doctor of philosophy in cell and molecular biology from the University of Pennsylvania and did a residency and fellowship at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.
As a medical doctor and a researcher, he moves back and forth between treating lung cancer patients and trying to unlock the secrets of the disease that will make for more effective treatments.
Susan Mantel, vice president of research and marketing for the Chicago-based LUNGevity Foundation, which awarded Burns a $300,000 grant this year, said KRAS lung cancer is “the biggest bucket of need,” in terms of treatment.
Mantel said Burns' work as a physician and a researcher made him especially attractive to LUNGevity.
“In terms of translational research, he is well-positioned. Tim is working on a targeted therapy and how do we combat resistance. His research is very cutting edge,” Mantel said.
Burns received a $200,000 grant from the American Lung Association this year.
Debra Erdley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Duquesne Club seeks permission from city to keep 4 rooftop bee hives
- Pirates rally planned for Market Square
- Allegheny County RAD increases budget by $2.5M for cultural, recreational programs
- Man taken to hospital after being hit by car in Carrick
- $21 million unfrozen for Pennsylvania school construction
- Threat at Sheraden school a ‘student hoax’
- Newsmaker: Joyce Rothermel
- Police: Estranged husband fatally shot by woman’s boyfriend after break-in attempt in Esplen
- City of Pittsburgh detective, 2 boys finalize adoption before judge
- Western Pa. towns eye fees to control stormwater runoff
- $5M Penn Avenue reconstruction project is ‘killing everything’