Research Award Winner and Celebs!


Introducing A Breath of Hope 2020 Research Fellow

At A Breath of Hope Lung Foundation (ABOH), we are committed to funding high-quality translational lung cancer research in areas that are critically shaping lung cancer survival rates. Despite a worldwide pandemic, racial tension, protests and a struggling economy, we press on knowing that the lung cancer community cannot wait for the problems to resolve. Today’s lung cancer patients need our help today!

ABOH is honored to announce this year’s fellow and the winner of the Katherine Bensen Hope Award—Dr. Esra Akbay of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Dr. Akbay’s winning proposal focuses on overcoming resistance to immune checkpoint blockade in lung cancer by targeting Telomerase. Dr. Akbay proposes to target an essential survival mechanism of tumor cells to activate protective anti-tumor immunity and immune memory. She will give an update this fall at the Midwest Lung Cancer Summit, a virtual event for survivors and caregivers.

Dr. Akbay started her scientific training at Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey majoring in Molecular Biology and Genetics. After graduating she moved to the United States for her Ph.D. studies. She joined the Cancer Biology Ph.D. program at UT Southwestern Medical Center and studied the role of telomere shortening in endometrial cancer development. Her work led to the development of the first preclinical model of type II endometrial cancer. For her postdoctoral studies, she joined the lab of Dr. Kwok-Kin Wong at Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical school. Her postdoctoral studies focused on developing novel mouse models and studying the tumor immune microenvironment. Her work led to a ​better understanding of tumor immune escape mechanisms. She moved to UT Southwestern Medical Center as an assistant professor in 2016. Research in her laboratory focuses on understanding how tumors evade the immune surveillance and designing therapies that target these escape mechanisms and activate anti-tumor immunity

This award was named in honor of Katherine Bensen, a courageous five-year lung cancer survivor whose family and friends have tirelessly advocated and fundraised for improved lung cancer outcomes. Katherine and her family have been loyal supporters of ABOH and despite Katherine’s illness, they never give up in their quest to bring fair funding to U.S. lung cancer research. Read Katherine’s story here.

Local Celebs Support the Fight to End Lung Cancer

While this year’s VIRTUAL A Breath of Hope Lung Run/Walk Twin Cities will look a little different, the passion for fighting lung cancer remains the same! This year, we’ve reached out to local Twin Cities talent to line up an incredible group of cheerleaders for the fundraisers among us!

Whether your team raises $250 or $5000, you will receive shout-outs and/or a personal phone call from one of our local celebs to encourage and support you as you raise dollars for research and education.

Important Event Dates and Reminders

  • Once you REGISTER, the fun begins! You can walk or run anytime August 8-9 and will hear from us periodically by email with instructions on how to access the online presentations and program, where to share photos, where to get your t-shirt (pick-up for locals is Aug. 6-7 in Minnetonka), when you will receive fundraising gift card prizes, and how to submit your walking or running time for a certificate.
  • Register by Wednesday, July 15 to get your loved one listed on the back of the commemorative t-shirt. Late registrants will miss the t-shirt, but your loved one will still be remembered on our website!
  • Login to your participant center or share your fundraising page on social media to activate your network in the fight against lung cancer (call Brooke if you have any trouble: 952-807-3419).
  • This year’s walk is virtual, but times can still be recorded and submitted for a participation certificate – start your training now!

Thank you Sponsors!

A special thank you to each of our amazing sponsors! Medtronic, Karst & vonOiste, MN Oncology, AJK Cutters, Merck and VIDA!

Thanks for all you do to support the mission of this organization and the families who depend on us. You are our heroes!

Good News on Lung Cancer Screening

July brought an exciting breakthrough in screening. The lung cancer screening guidelines that have been so restrictive (and unhelpful in reducing late-stage diagnoses) are finally being looked at for expansion by the USPSTF. It’s a start and we are thrilled to have made even a little progress in getting more Americans screened.

“We already know that screening for lung cancer saves lives, but is currently only available to a fraction of patients at risk. The proposal by the USPTF is a move in the right direction to allow more people to benefit from this potentially life-saving intervention,” said ABOH Research Committee Chair, Dr. Manish Patel.

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