The Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program has awarded a $495,000 grant to Ite Laird-Offringa, PhD, associate professor of surgery and associate dean for graduate affairs (PhD programs) at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. Laird-Offringa and her team are investigating how certain genetic variants increase lung cancer predisposition and are conducting this research in partnership with Bravo Medical Magnet High School. This investigation could lead to new methods to predict and mitigate the risk for lung cancer.

“We are so excited to be funded by the Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program,” Laird-Offringa said. “Through this grant, tobacco tax dollars will go not only to investigating the genetic basis of lung cancer but also to community outreach and education through our relationship with Bravo Medical Magnet High School.”

The partnership with Bravo Medical Magnet High School is an important component to this initiative. Julya Mestas, a Bravo High student, will conduct research under the guidance of Laura St. Pierre, a PhD student in Laird-Offringa’s lab.

Over the next year, Laird-Offringa will give a series of lectures at Bravo High on the value of secondary education, the latest developments in lung cancer research and the dangers of smoking. The lecture series aims to inspire students to also educate their parents about smoking and lung cancer prevention. — Mary Dacuma