NIH Intramural Blog Examines Genetic Influences on Lung Cancer
Jiyeon Choi, Ph.D., M.S., Earl Stadtman investigator in the Laboratory of Translational Genomics, discusses her lab's research on the influence of genetics on lung cancer risk in NIH’s Intramural Research Program (IRP) blog, I am Intramural. An excerpt of the post is presented below.
Today is World Lung Cancer Day, bringing increased awareness to a disease most commonly associated with smoking tobacco products. Yet even though cigarette smoking rates have decreased over the past few decades, this deadly disease remains responsible for more deaths than any other type of cancer—more than 125,000 per year in the U.S. alone. In fact, between 10 and 25 percent of lung cancers occur in people who never smoked.
IRP Stadtman Investigator Jiyeon Choi, Ph.D., has always been curious about how our DNA influences the traits we have and our risk for diseases. When it comes to genes’ contribution to cancer risk, the stakes are particularly high, but Dr. Choi noticed a gap in research when it came to understanding the role genetic variation plays in lung cancer risk. She and her research team aim to fill this gap using a battery of high-tech genomic studies to root out the genes and molecular processes that make some people more susceptible to the disease.
“There aren’t many groups who are trying to connect the epidemiological findings on lung cancer to the molecular underpinnings of the disease,” Dr. Choi says. “By studying the genetics of how lung cancer happens, it is possible to provide clues and tools for early detection, when there’s a better chance of successfully removing the entire tumor. And if we know the cause of lung cancer, we can do a better job of prevention and screening, which could be particularly beneficial for non-smokers.”