College receives grant to continue lung cancer work

The University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford has been awarded a grant of $50,000 by the Dr. Louis & Violet Rubin Fund of the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois to continue work on early screening of lung cancer. Dr. Neelu Puri, Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, will be the Principle Investigator in this grant.

Last year, Dr. Neelu Puri began a collaborative effort with OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center Patricia D. Pepe Center for Cancer Care, the Department of Pathology at the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System Chicago, Mercyhealth, SwedishAmerican a Division of UW Health, the Winnebago County Health Department, the National Center for Rural Health Professionals, and Health Systems Research to enhance early screening of lung cancer in our community.

In 2014, 204 deaths were reported out of 245 cases of lung cancer in Winnebago County. The high mortality is likely due to late clinical diagnosis. Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) proposed new guidelines for early screening of lung cancer in individuals aged 55-80 with a smoking history of 20 cigarettes a day for 30 years.

Beginning last year, Dr. Puri and her collaborators conducted seminars and provided educational materials to the general public and area physicians to promote and implement the CDC guidelines.

“Having additional funding to continue this initiative will allow this group to continue this important work and to attempt to translate these findings to clinical applications for improved detection and prognosis of lung cancer patients in Winnebago County which could potentially also be applied nationally,” said Alex Stagnaro-Green, MD, MHPE, Dean of the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford.

“We are proud of our long-term relationships with the local health systems and community organizations,” Stagnaro-Green said. “The grant from the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois will give us additional resources to allow Dr. Neelu Puri, to continue to collaborate on this initiative.”

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–University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford

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