IASLC Foundation

Mark M. Awad

Harvard Medical School & the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Boston, Massachusetts

Mark M. Awad, MD, PhD, earned the IASLC Lung Cancer Young Investigator Award for 2015-2016. He will use the award to conduct a one-year study at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Harnessing the immune system to aid in the fight against cancer is becoming a powerful tool for achieving long-term control of multiple cancer types, including lung cancer. To generate longer durations of treatment responses in ALK-positive lung cancer patients, Dr. Awad will conduct a phase 1 clinical trial of an ALK peptide vaccine in lung cancer patients. Dr. Awad’s one-year study will collect blood and analyze tissue biopsies from existing ALK-positive NSCLC patients and ALK-negative controls. Using these blood samples, he will aim to detect antibodies and T-cells that are specifically reactive against the ALK antigen. Furthermore, he will use tissue biopsies to characterize the immune profile of tumor cells and infiltrating white blood cells. These immunologic studies will lay the necessary groundwork for understanding which ALK-positive lung cancer patients will respond best to immunotherapies.

Dr. Awad’s drive to find better ways to treat lung cancer began while he was in college when this father was diagnosed with a tumor.

“I gained an early appreciation for how the tireless efforts of translational clinicians and basic scientists can deeply impact the lives of patients and their family members. Throughout my medical training, however, I have also unfortunately met innumerable cancer patients for whom there are no effective treatments, making me quickly recognize the urgent need for more translational research in oncology,” he said.