Patrick Forde, MD, grew up in Ireland. During his initial training, he worked with two men who would become mentors for him – Ken O’Byrne and Desmond Carney. Both prominent IASLC members and lung cancer specialists, they counseled Forde during his medical oncology training.
“They provided inspiration for me and are shining examples of successful lung cancer clinician-scientists” Forde says. That inspiration led him to move to the U.S. to undertake advanced fellowship work in thoracic oncology at Johns Hopkins University.
Dr. Forde is currently studying how the immune system fails to recognize cancer cells as foreign, specifically in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). A molecule called programmed death 1 (PD-1), seems to inhibit the immune response to tumor cells. Forde will study how an anti-PD-1 drug called nivolumab, benefits patients with non-small cell lung cancer and in time this research may allow improved selection of patients for clinical trials of immunotherapy in NSCLC.
“Nivolumab is one of the most promising agents under investigation for NSCLC. This study will really be a first step to comprehensively examine the immune system in NSCLC,” Forde says. “We hope it will provide information which will help us design future studies.”
The research is partly funded by a grant from the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) and the Prevent Cancer Foundation. Forde will receive $40,000 for 1 year.
“This is a great opportunity for me and our project,” Forde says. “It will allow me protected research time.”
One of the aims of the research is to characterize the type, severity and frequency of adverse events associated with nivolumab when administered prior to resection of NSCLC.
He’s working with Dr. Julie Brahmer, associate professor of Oncology at The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins University and the tumor immunology groups at Johns Hopkins and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
“He’s exceptionally talented both in clinical and research aspects,” Brahmer says. “He’s very driven and it’s a pleasure to work with him.”
Brahmer hopes this funding will not only allow Forde time to work on the project, but the opportunity to develop his career so the lung cancer community can keep a very talented researcher in the field of lung cancer research.
“It is an exciting time for immunology and immunotherapy in lung cancer,” Brahmer says. “We’re happy the IASLC recognizes this as well.”