Jill Larsen, PhD, earned the IASLC Lung Cancer Young Investigator Award for 2015-2016 and will use it to work on research based at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute.
Because targeted lung cancer therapies show extraordinary potential, Dr. Larsen’s research aims to identify genetic alternations involved with early stages of lung tumor development. This is a critical stage where normal lung cells transform into malignant tumor cells. Previously, Dr. Larsen worked to develop a unique cell culture-based model, called Human Bronchial Epithelial Cells (HBECs) to simulate lung tumor development. Using her expertise with the HBEC model with cutting-edge DNA sequence technology, her research aims to identify genetic alterations that occur with transformation of normal lung cells to malignancy. This could lead to breakthrough advances in our understanding of the initiation and development of lung cancer as well as identifying weaknesses only present in tumor cells. This has the potential to translate into therapeutic targets for both the prevention, including in high-risk patients such as heavy smokers, and treatment of lung cancer tumors that contain the genetic alteration. Dr. Larsen’s goal is to create advances in our understanding of how lung cancer begins and use the new understanding of a tumor’s vulnerabilities to create therapeutic targets for drug development.
Dr. Larsen has a history of strong leadership and a consistent commitment to lung cancer research that highlights her drive and potential as a future leader in the field. While moving her own work forward, she aims to build and strengthen her worldwide network of basic and clinical research collaborators.