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Lung Cancer Initiative of North Carolina its 2020-2021 Research Fellows, including Shetal Patel, MD, PhD, who is also this year’s Lung Cancer Initiative Outstanding Fellow Applicant.

The Lung Cancer Initiative of North Carolina (LCI) announced that Shetal Patel, MD, PhD, assistant professor of medicine in the division of oncology at the UNC School of Medicine, is one of five recipients of the 2020-2021 Research Fellows Grant. Dr. Patel is also this year’s Lung Cancer Initiative Outstanding Fellow Applicant for her research project, “Combination Strategies Targeting Myeloid Cells in Squamous Lung Cancer.”

Dr. Patel, who is a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, conducts research to understand the role of innate immune checkpoints in lung cancer treatment response. Tumors are known for blocking T cell function, but they can evade immune recognition through upregulation of innate immune checkpoints such as CD47 too. Multiple drugs targeting innate immune checkpoints are currently in clinical development. Dr. Patel’s project will aim to test novel treatment combinations with the hope of improving immunotherapy treatment outcomes for patients with lung cancer.

“We are pleased to be able to support the work of this year’s recipients and know how critical it is to continue their growth within the field of lung cancer,” said Amy Cipau, President and Founder of LCI. “It has been a particularly difficult time to continue critical research during the COVID-19 pandemic, and, we are dedicated to the continued advancement of this important work and to supporting the continued growth of each of these grantees.”

The purpose of the Research Fellows program is to further the development of local lung cancer care and research programs across the state of NC. By funding the research activities of five fellows per year, LCI helps further their careers and encourage their continued involvement in the field of lung cancer. This fellowship is provided for students who wish to pursue a career in lung cancer research, diagnosis, treatment and/or care. LCI fellowships are granted for one year and recipients receive a $25,000 per year stipend. Any questions regarding the submission process should be emailed to LCI’s Senior Director of Programs, Jenni Denai, MHA at .

“I am honored to receive this grant from the Lung Cancer Initiative and look forward to working closely with LCI to improve outcomes for patients with lung cancer,” said Dr. Patel.

Annually, lung cancer claims more lives in North Carolina and the US than breast, colorectal and prostate cancers combined. 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, career development award and innovation grant.

About Lung Cancer Initiative of North Carolina
As the state’s leading nonprofit organization supporting lung cancer research and education, Lung Cancer Initiative of North Carolina specializes in connecting patients, survivors and loved ones with the medical and research community. The organization’s mission is to save lives and provide support to those affected by lung cancer through research, awareness, education and access programs across North Carolina. For more information, please visit