Lung cancer ucla

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CTSI Director Honored for Work in Lung Cancer Research and Treatment

Dr. Steven Dubinett, director of the UCLA CTSI, has been honored by the American Lung Association for his work on research and treatment of lung cancer.

Dubinett, a professor of medicine, pathology and laboratory medicine, and molecular and medical pharmacology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and lung cancer researcher in the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, was honored at the association’s Lung Force Gala for advancing academic, clinical and community partnerships designed to accelerate scientific discoveries and clinical breakthroughs in order to improve the health of people worldwide.

“It is such an honor to be recognized by an organization who has supported my research since day one,” said Dubinett. “This honor isn’t just about me, but highlights the work of our laboratory members and our collaborators for their critical insights and exceptional creativity, which are leading to translational discoveries for patients with lung cancer.”

See the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center press release for the full story on his research that began more than 30 years ago.

Dubinett is the chief of pulmonary, critical care, sleep medicine, clinical immunology and allergy at UCLA, and the associate vice chancellor and senior associate dean for translational research. 

More information:
UCLA Newsroom press release


Latest News

UCLA cancer researcher Rui Li

A new study by researchers at the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center have identified a novel combination therapy to potentially help overcome resistance to immunotherapy in people diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. The combination approach uses immune checkpoint inhibitors with ATRA, a safe medication that is widely used to treat leukemia. The team found the combination therapy lead to eradication of over 70 percent of tumors when tested in mice with LKB1-deficient lung cancer. It also generated durable tumor-specific immunity.


Immune checkpoint inhibitors have substantially improved the outcomes for people with lung cancer. The five-year survival rate for patients with advanced disease on this therapy is more than 13 percent compared to 5 percent in patients with conventional chemotherapy. Although immunotherapy has been successful for many patients, a majority of patients still do not respond to the therapy.

To help increase the number of patients who benefit from this therapy, researchers have sought to identify mechanisms for treatment resistance. The tumor suppressor gene LKB1 are found mutated in 20 percent of patients with non-small cell lung cancer and 30 percent of KRAS-mutant non-small cell lung cancers. It also is a major gene associated with resistance to immune checkpoint inhibitors. By identifying aberrant pathways caused by LKB1 mutation, researchers are figuring out a novel therapy that targets the pathway and sensitizes LKB1-deficient tumors to immunotherapy.

Dr. Steven Dubinett, M.D.

To assess the response of the combination therapy, researchers tested the therapy in mice that were injected with LKB1-deficient lung tumors.

The study provides evidence that using ATRA in combination with checkpoint inhibitors could potentially help patients with advanced lung cancer who carry LKB1 mutation to have a positive response to immunotherapy.

Lead authors are Rui Li, MD, PhD, currently a resident physician of internal medicine at UCLA, and Ramin Salehi-Rad, MD, PhD, a physician scientist in pulmonary and critical caremedicine. The senior authors are Bin Liu, PhD, an adjunct professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine, and Steven Dubinett, MD, a professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine, pathology and laboratory medicine, and molecular and medical pharmacology at the Geffen School of Medicine and physician-scientist in the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The study was published online in Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

The research was supported in part by funding from the National Cancer Institute, the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute and the Department of Veteran Affairs.

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Clinical Programs Thoracic Surgery

Lung Cancer Program

Lung cancer is one of the most common cancers in both men and women. UCLA thoracic surgeons are experts in the diagnosis, staging, and management of lung cancer. We apply the most current surgical techniques including video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) and robotic-assisted thoracic surgery (RATS). We work closely with specialists in multiple disciplines including pulmonology, oncology, radiation oncology, and radiology to provide our patients with the best possible care. We participate in research projects to study the biology of lung cancer, new lung cancer treatments, new surgical techniques, and optimization of preoperative and postoperative patient care. At UCLA, we have all the resources to provide personalized lung cancer care that will give each patient the best chance of long-term survival.

Esophageal Cancer and Benign Esophageal Disorders Program

The UCLA Division of Thoracic Surgery offers the full spectrum of testing and treatment for disorders of the esophagus. Our thoracic surgeons play central roles in the multi-disciplinary care of esophageal cancer and Barret’s esophagus. We also treat benign conditions of the esophagus including reflux, hiatal hernia, achalasia, and esophageal diverticulum.

Mesothelioma Program

We have a long history of innovation in the treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma at UCLA. Our surgeons have long championed a now widely accepted lung-sparing approach to the surgical treatment of mesothelioma called pleurectomy and decortication. We also work closely with our colleagues in oncology, radiation oncology, and interventional radiology to tailor a treatment program specific to each patient’s needs. Outcomes for mesothelioma patients have improved over the last several years, and we are committed to continuing to find new ways to improve.

Robotic Thoracic Surgery Program

Minimally-invasive approaches to thoracic operations have been a focus at UCLA for decades. We have a longstanding history of excellent outcomes using video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS). More recently, we have adopted robotic-assisted techniques as well. The robotic approach has the potential to minimize patient discomfort while maximizing surgical dexterity. We are able to approach cases robotically that would have required a traditional open incision in the past, leading to faster recovery times.

Sarcoma Program

The UCLA Sarcoma Program provides innovative multidisciplinary treatment for adults and children with sarcoma at any stage of the disease. UCLA is one of the three busiest sarcoma centers in the nation. On an annual basis we evaluate over 1000 patients with sarcoma, over 500 of which undergo surgery at UCLA. At UCLA, a patient’s plan of care is decided by our weekly sarcoma tumor board involving physicians specializing in sarcoma from surgical oncology, orthopedic oncology, gynecologic oncology, medical oncology, radiation oncology, pediatric oncology, pathology and radiology.

Tracheobronchial disorders
Our surgeons are experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of benign and malignant conditions of the airways (trachea and bronchi). We employ rigid and flexible bronchoscopy, dilation, stenting, laser treatment, and surgical intervention to treat these problems. We have recently developed a multi-disciplinary program focusing on tracheobronchomalacia.

Mediastinal tumors
Mediastinal tumors are rare masses that grow in the mediastinum, the space in the middle of the chest around the heart. Most of these masses grow in the front part of the chest, the anterior mediastinum, which contains the thymus gland. Tumors in this area can be benign or malignant and small or large. We offer the full spectrum of care for these problems. Many times, we can use robotic techniques to remove mediastinal masses without large incisions. We are also well-equipped to perform larger resections, including resections of tumors that involve nearby structures such as blood vessels. In addition to removal of tumors, we perform thymectomies to treat myasthenia gravis.

Chest Wall and Diaphragm
At UCLA, we treat a variety of patients with benign and malignant chest wall disorders. We perform chest wall resections and reconstructions for tumors that involve the chest wall. We also treat a variety of benign chest wall disorders with operations including first rib resection for thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS), pectus repairs, and plating for complicated rib fractures. We are experienced in minimally-invasive and robotic approaches to diaphragm plication and repair of diaphragmatic hernias.

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New Directions in Lung Cancer Care - Anita Kaul, MD - UCLA Health

Lung cancer care at UCLA

Care for lung cancer patients at UCLA is provided by UCLA Health’s UCLA Lung Cancer Program.

The UCLA Lung Cancer Program is comprised of a multidisciplinary team of experts who are dedicated to the prevention, detection, treatment and research of lung cancer. The program's mission is to provide the best patient care through promoting a multidisciplinary team approach, practicing evidence-based medicine, providing cutting-edge treatments and making new discoveries in lung cancer.

Make an appointment

Please call the UCLA Cancer Hotline at888-ONC-UCLA (888-662-8252) Monday through Friday, 8am to 5pm.

For more information about insurance, billing, patient forms, map and directions, and more, please visit the UCLA Health website.

To refer a patient

If you are a health care professional and would like to refer a patient to the UCLA Lung Cancer Program, please call our Physician Referral Service at 1-800-UCLA-MD1 (800-825-2631).

You can also visit the UCLA Health website for more information.

Clinical trials for lung cancer

Clinical trials are a vital step in discovering new treatments for cancer. UCLA doctors conduct clinical research to find new therapies for lung tumors, and geneticists also work with precision medicine, which uses your DNA to help pinpoint the best treatment for you. By participating in a clinical trial, you will have access to the most innovative care

To search for clinical trials at UCLA, please visit UCLA Health's online clinical trial search tool. You can also call the Clinical Trials Hotline at (855) 731-6040.

Learn more about lung cancer

For more information about lung cancer and its symptoms, risk factors, and screening and treatment options, please visit UCLA Health’s lung cancer page.

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