A group of Salk scientists received a 2022 Mark Foundation for Cancer Research Endeavor Award to support their research exploring the metabolic changes that help lung cancers develop. The $3 million Endeavor Award promotes collaborative science to tackle some of the toughest challenges in cancer research. The Salk team—one of four teams chosen out of nearly 200 applications submitted by institutions around the world—hopes their work will lead to the development of more effective lung cancer treatments.  

“New therapies for difficult-to-treat solid tumors like lung cancer are urgently needed,” says Reuben Shaw, head investigator on the project, who is also William R. Brody Chair and director of the Salk’s National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center. “This Endeavor award will accelerate our efforts to identify novel metabolic targets and develop precision drugs for specific genetic subsets of non-small cell lung cancer.”

In recognition of how The Mark Foundation Endeavor Awards foster the formation of strong, multi-disciplinary teams in cancer research, the MacMillan Family Foundation is supporting the Endeavor program by fully funding the work of the Salk Endeavor team. The MacMillan family’s generous gift reflects their commitment to directly supporting scientists who think creatively to address the needs of cancer patients.

“We are very grateful to The Mark Foundation and MacMillan family—this exciting project brings together four labs that are each deep experts in different aspects of tumor biology,” says Shaw. “With this funding, we can define a comprehensive set of metabolic targets and fuel our plan to develop several new therapies for the more than 100,000 patients diagnosed with lung cancer every year.”

Most deadly lung cancer cases (85%) are non-small-cell lung carcinomas (NSCLCs). In order to grow, cancer cells undergo unique metabolic changes to sustain their growth demands, including changes in glucose and fat metabolism. The Salk team previously defined one fat metabolism change in a subset of NSCLCs and pioneered new therapeutics based on the finding. Now The Mark Foundation Endeavor Award will enable the Salk scientists to comprehensively study and define the metabolic changes occurring in all NSCLCs, which will dramatically expand therapeutic possibilities.

“Collaboration is critical to success in science,” said Raymond DuBois, executive chairman of the board of The Mark Foundation. “We’re confident that the incredible projects selected for Endeavor Awards will have a direct and substantial impact on the lives of cancer patients.”