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We are Free to Breathe - A Letter from the President

  • September 15 2014

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    We are Free to Breathe - A Letter from the President

    If you’ve been following this column
in the Free to Breathe/National Lung Cancer Partnership newsletters, you already know that we’ve set an ambitious goal to double lung cancer survival by 2022. We’ve been continuing to strengthen our efforts to turn this vision into a reality by recently making two significant changes.

    You may already know that we’ve officially changed our name to Free 
to Breathe earlier this year. We have also refocused our programs to impact the national lung cancer movement in more ways than ever before.

    A name can tell a lot about an organization. What’s in our new name? The Free to Breathe name embodies hope, courage and empowerment.  It also symbolizes strength -- something we see and
 are inspired by every single day in
 all of you who dedicate so much of your time, talent and treasures to our organization. Our new name creates a single point of focus and captures our belief that every person with lung cancer deserves to be free to breathe. 

    In addition to our name change, we 
needed to evaluate and refocus our
 research and programmatic efforts in order to make reaching our goals attainable. Our Board, staff and
 scientific advisors realized the need 
to identify the most effective ways to
 quickly make a meaningful impact on
 survival and we began by examining 
our research grant programs.

    Since 2005, our Young Investigator Research Grant program has been encouraging promising young scientists to enter the lung cancer research field with the ultimate goal of developing new treatments. The program is working; our ranks are growing.

    When we began this program eight years ago, only seven researchers applied for funding; more recently,
 up to 93 researchers applied. This increase in young researchers with novel ideas bodes well for the future of lung cancer research.

    Treatment options for lung cancer
 patients are more numerous than ever
 before with more researchers 
choosing to enter this field, thanks
 in part to grant
 programs like
ours. Because 
of our initial
 support, several of our grant winners’ projects have progressed to clinical trials, allowing these treatments to be directly available to eligible patients participating in the trials.

    As we look to the future, we will focus solely on research projects that will prevent or stop metastasis, the spread of the disease. One of the greatest challenges in treating lung cancer is preventing it from spreading to other parts of the body and keeping cancer that has already spread at bay. If we can stop the spread of lung cancer, we can stop the disease from claiming the lives of people we love.

    In order to have the greatest impact 
in stopping the spread of lung cancer and realize significant gains in survival, our expert scientific advisors told us funding larger projects is crucial. That’s why we’re announcing a change in
 our research grant program. These grants will be three-year, $600,000 awards, allowing recipients the significant funding needed to develop their ideas and translate these ideas into treatments for patients, regardless of the stage at which they’re diagnosed.  Learn more about our 2015 grant competition here.

    Together, let’s unite around the common goal that lung cancer survival should be the expectation, not the exception. We look forward to sharing this journey with you.

    Joan Schiller

    President - Free to Breathe Board of Directors

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