Entries by brooke

Gut Microbiota Related to Lung Cancer and the Immune System

Dr. Amit Kulkarni is a Medical Oncologist specializing in thoracic malignancies at the University of Minnesota, Masonic Cancer Center. He joined the faculty in 2020 after completing his fellowship at the University of Minnesota. His research is focused on evaluating the role of microbiome as a novel biomarker for treatment response. In addition, he is studying the feasibility of modulating the gut microbiome to boost treatment outcomes.

Midwest Lung Cancer Patient Summit Presentation:

Gut Microbiota Related to Lung Cancer and the Immune System Amit Kulkarni, MD, University of Minnesota

Discuss the role of microbiome at the interface of the immune system, lung cancer development and its treatment. I will also discuss the impact of diet and medications on the gut health (microbiome) and treatment response.

2020 Gala Registration

2021 Screening Meeting Registration

A Message From An ABOH Researcher

A note from our 2020 A Breath of Hope Fellow and winner of the Katherine Bensen Hope Award – Dr. Esra Akbay of UTSW:

Dear Katherine Bensen and supporters of the A Breath of Lung Foundation,

I am incredibly humbled to have received the “Katherine Bensen Hope Award” for our studies regarding overcoming resistance to immune checkpoint blockade by targeting telomerase. We are very excited that we can now perform these important studies. This funding comes in a very difficult time where most agencies have reduced funding. Now is also a very critical time in my personal research career – research in my lab is just starting to yield significant observations, but we do not currently have Federal funding to support our exciting work.

We will use the Katherine Bensen Hope Award to determine how telomerase inhibition with our novel agent works together with the immune system and whether targeting telomerase – a hallmark of cancer – can sensitize otherwise treatment-resistant tumors to the current standard of care. Because telomerase is a common cancer target, we believe that the biology can be applied to most lung cancers including the non-smoker associated lung cancers which are currently refractory to immunotherapies. Thankfully, with the funding from A Breath of Hope, Lung Foundation, we will be able to launch these studies. 

We appreciate A Breath of Hope, its donors, and specifically Katherine Bensen’s dedication to support lung cancer research even during such difficult times. We will use the funds to generate data to help inform clinical trials and sincerely hope to make an impact in the lives of lung cancer patients and their families.

Warmest regards to the ABOH Community,


Dr. Esra Akbay, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Pathology
UT Southwestern Medical Center

Volunteer of the Month

A Breath of Hope Lung Foundation (ABOH) is so grateful for all of the wonderful volunteers that support our mission. Each month the ABOH staff selects one volunteer that goes above and beyond and features them here. This month, we are proud to highlight Manish Patel, D.O., as ABOH’s Volunteer of the Month!

Learn More About Dr. Patel:

Dr. Patel as A Breath of Hope’s first research fellow.

What is your connection to lung cancer?
I have been around lung cancer for most of my life. My dad was a lung doctor in rural Indiana and would bring me along to see patients when he was doing a bronchoscopy or making rounds in the hospital.  I probably first saw a lung cancer patient when I was 8 or 9 years old.  It was not really until I was in medical school that I began to think about my future career in lung cancer.  I did an elective rotation in medical oncology at Indiana University and at that time, the fellow who was teaching me was Nasser Hanna – now a prominent lung cancer oncologist.  I think that experience was formative for me and after this, I knew that I wanted to do medical oncology.  From the beginning, I knew that whatever field I chose, I wanted to be able to make an impact.  Lung cancer was (and remains) the leading cause of cancer-related death and I felt that that this was my opportunity to have an impact.  

How did you find A Breath of Hope?
When I was a fellow at the University of Minnesota, I knew about A Breath of Hope through Arek Dudek, M.D., Ph.D.  At the time, Dr. Dudek had recruited Dr. Fujioka, my colleague, to serve on one of the committees for A Breath of Hope. I believe Arek had suggested that I apply for A Breath of Hope Fellowship award and I was lucky enough to be selected as the first Breath of Hope Fellow.  The award was really helpful to me as an early career researcher as it validated me, to some degree, in the eyes of my colleagues at the institution, and helped to protect my time doing the research.

Dr. Patel kicking off a Twin Cities Lung Run/Walk.

How have you volunteered and what has it meant to you?
As an ABOH Fellow and being local here in Minnesota, I was offered many opportunities to interact with A Breath of Hope at DocSpot events, The Lung/Run Walk, and other events and came to understand the important work that was being done.  I feel A Breath of Hope allows me another avenue to impact the care of patients with lung cancer – both in terms of the research that it funds, but also the numerous services that are offered to patients that I have now been a part of.  I have only increased my involvement with A Breath of Hope since then. I now serve as the chairperson of the Scientific Committee and am involved in guiding the research that we support, and also serve on the Board of Directors. 

What A Breath of Hope event or activity are you most looking forward to this next year?
For me, I really enjoy the A Breath of Hope Summit every year.  I really enjoy the ability to interact with patients, survivors, and caregivers and provide them with useful information to help guide them through the journey.  It is also always gratifying to be able to share with the group there, the latest and greatest in lung cancer advances.  It has always been such an uplifting experience for me.