UCLA scientist receives research grant to advance fight against lung cancer

David Shackelford

Dr. David Shackelford, UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center member and assistant professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine at UCLA, has been awarded a prestigious Research Career Development Award by STOP CANCER to further advance his research into how lung cancer tumor cell vulnerabilities may be harnessed to develop new and more effective therapies for lung cancer.

STOP CANCER, a nonprofit volunteer organization based in Los Angeles, is committed to funding promising and innovative scientists conducting research on all forms of cancer, including prevention and treatment. With a primary focus on beginning investigators, the Research Career Development Award (RCDA) seeks to facilitate major cancer achievements and elevate and expose young researchers to opportunities for growth, discovery and collaboration. The RCDA is bestowed by STOP CANCER based on nominations from a cancer center’s internal peer review committee.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide, and the American Lung Association estimates more than 158,000 people in the United States will die from the disease this year alone.

Preliminary work in Shackelford’s lab investigated how alterations in signal transduction pathways in lung cancer lead to unregulated metabolism and increased cellular stress that create vulnerabilities in tumor cells. By studying the roles metabolism and stress play in tumor cell development, they seek to identify how these vulnerabilities can be exploited to develop innovative cancer therapies.

The three-year grant will allow Shackelford’s team to also examine the potential of repurposing existing drugs, such as biguanides (which have historically been used to treat diabetes) for use as anti-cancer agents. 

Shackelford hopes this research will address the urgent need for better therapies and improve the overall survival and quality of life for lung cancer patients.