Name: Linde Miles
Institution: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Education: BS, Penn State University
PhD Candidate, Johns Hopkins University
Research Focus: Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC)
Ms. Miles, a recipient of a 2014 LCRF Research Grant, is a current PhD student at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. She is currently completing her program studies at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in New York City, one of the most esteemed cancer centers in the world.
After losing her grandfather to small cell lung cancer, Ms. Miles grew particularly interested in cancer research. She majored in biochemistry/molecular biology during her undergraduate studies at Penn State University, and ultimately became drawn to the discovery and characterization of new and effective therapies that could help patients.
“When I started rotations during my doctoral studies at Johns Hopkins, the lung cancer research occurring really piqued my interest,” Miles said. “The lab was taking bench research and translating them directly into the clinic. I was able to join the lab and really have the opportunity to focus on a cancer that had affected my family personally.”
The lab she is referring to is led by none other than Dr. Charles M. Rudin, Chief of Thoracic Oncology Service at MSKCC and member of the LCRF Medical Advisory Board. Dr. Rudin, who also was the keynote speaker at the Ninth Annual Lung Cancer Awareness Luncheon earlier this month, has been a mentor to many, including Ms. Miles.
“Dr. Rudin encourages his students to really become independent researchers, guiding and managing our projects,” she said.
Ms. Miles’ LCRF funded study focuses around a virus that selectively infects and kills small cell lung cancer (SCLC) cells while sparing normal cells. The goal of the project is to identify the proteins important in viral infection using two complimentary techniques which create cells with gene knockout and subsequently protein knockouts of every gene in the human genome. After the generation of these cells, any cells that have a gene knockout occurring in protein that is essential for the virus to enter the cell will now be resistant to and survive infection by the virus. Once she and her team is able to identify the genes responsible, they can characterize the proteins important for viral infection and ultimately identify biomarkers on a patient’s tumor that will determine if the patient will benefit from virotherapy.
Lung cancer is the most deadly cause of cancer death and the second most common form of cancer in both men and women, yet it remains significantly underfunded. Researchers like Ms. Miles depend on private funding from organizations like the LCRF to allow their work to continue.
“Funding allows researchers to continue ongoing projects, follow-up on new discoveries or observations, and even start new and exciting projects from scratch,” Ms. Miles said.
Ms. Miles’ project was selected from a pool of over 100 applicants, many of whom have years of research under their belts, including both doctoral and medical degrees. As a graduate student, Ms. Miles is grateful to the LCRF for offering one of few opportunities to apply for funding.
“I was looking forward to applying for funding from the LCRF as it was one of very few opportunities for graduate students to apply directly for funding for their own research projects,” she said. “I knew that these grant applications were very competitive and researchers with all levels of experience would be applying. It is such a great honor to have my grant awarded funding among all of the other exceptional grants.”
Ms. Miles is one of 20 recipients of $1 million in lung cancer research funding. All applications for grants are reviewed by the LCRF’s esteemed Medical Advisory Board and approved by Board of Directors.
For more information about the LCRF Research Grant Program, please click here.