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July 08, 2016 —Amy Holcombe

Leo W. Jenkins Cancer Center physician receives grant for lung cancer research

GREENVILLE —Dr. Meera Yogarajah, a hematology/oncology fellow with the Leo W. Jenkins Cancer Center was presented a $25,000 grant from the Lung Cancer Initiative of North Carolina.

Yogarajah is one of five winners of the 2016-2017 Lung Cancer Research Fellows Program. The purpose of the program is to further the development of local lung cancer care and research across the state of North Carolina.

This year the initiative is awarding five grants totaling $125,000 as a part of the organization’s commitment to fund North Carolina researchers. Yogarajah’s research focus is “Identification of biomarkers in lung cancer patients treated with anti-PD-1 immune therapy.”

Lung cancer takes more lives than breast, prostate and colon cancers combined, yet is greatly underfunded. The Research Fellows Program is designed to support young scientists in a way that will help them to develop pilot data for future larger grants. Since 2008, the initiative has funded $750,000 in lung cancer research.

Dr. Jennifer Garst, board chairman of the initiative, stated, “Our Fellows Grant Program supports young scientists at major lung cancer research centers around the state and allows them to be mentored by North Carolina’s leading lung cancer researchers. I am very proud of the diversity and depth of thinking that is evident in all of our grant winners' proposals this year and look forward to more thought provoking and cutting-edge proposals in the future with the support of the Lung Cancer Initiative of North Carolina."

“The rising prevalence and mortality associated with lung cancer has necessitated need for novel therapies,” said Dr. Yogarajah. She explained that anti-PD-1 immune therapy has brought great hope in advanced metastatic non-small cell lung cancers.

“My study on identification of biomarkers and gene expression profile of responders to anti-PD-1 therapy will aid in extrapolating the use in non-metastatic non-small cell lung cancers in a selected population with favorable characteristic which will open a new world of treatment options and incredible hope for survival.”

The Leo W. Jenkins Cancer Center provides outpatient cancer services through a collaboration between Vidant Health and the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. Cancer experts diagnose and treat thousands of cancer patients every year.

Through clinical trials, cancer patients have access to the latest, most promising treatments. The staff at Leo W. Jenkins Cancer Center is a resource for patients wanting to learn how to manage their illness and take advantage of services available close to home. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 252-744-1888 or 800-223-9328.

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About Vidant Health
Vidant Health is a mission-driven, 1,439-bed health system that annually serves more than 1.4 million people in 29 eastern North Carolina counties. The not-for-profit system is made up of 12,000 employees, eight hospitals, home health, hospice, wellness centers, and Vidant Medical Group, a multispecialty physician and provider group with more than 420 providers in 80 practice sites. Vidant Health is affiliated with the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. As a major resource for health services and education, Vidant Health has a mission to improve the health and well-being of eastern North Carolina. For more information, visit www.vidanthealth.com.

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Meera Yogarajah

Dr.Meera Yogarajah