By Joe Wilson —
On Jan. 26, U of L announced that the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences will sponsor a $6.7 million grant to research the link between metals and lung cancer.
Dr. John Pierce Wise Sr., professor in the department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, will lead the eight-year research project. Wise will partner with experts from across the U.S., Germany, China and Japan to examine the relationship between metals and lung cancer. The grant will be funded by the Revolutionizing Innovative Visionary Environmental Health Research program.
Although lung cancer is commonly attributed to smoking, other environmental conditions contribute to its development. 1 in 5 women and 1 in 12 men who develop lung cancer have never smoked. Exposure to metals has been established as a cause of cancer, but scientists do not have an extensive understanding of the link between metal and lung cancer specifically.
Wise has dedicated three decades of his career toward research of metals and cancer. In his previous work, Wise studied metal exposure in whale blubber and concluded that while animals are exposed to metals in the ocean, they are less likely to develop cancer as compared to humans. The grant will allow Wise and his team of researchers to understand the discrepancy in rates of cancer between animals and humans.
“U of L is one of the top institutions in the country in research and discovery for how human health is influenced by our environment, and preeminent researchers like Dr. Wise are the reason. This grant is recognition of the incredible contributions Dr. Wise has made to the field and provides ongoing support for continued discovery for years to come,” said Kevin Gardner, U of L executive vice president of research and innovation.
In response to the announcement, U of L Interim President Lori Stewart Gonzalez said, “We are grateful for the institute’s confidence in Dr. Wise and our university to lead this work in addressing such a significant health concern. I am excited to see this amazing research continue and expand at U of L thanks to this grant.”
According to the American Lung Association, Kentucky has the highest rates of lung cancer in the country. Lung cancer in the state is known to be particularly deadly, with only 19 percent of patients alive after five years of diagnosis. This is lower than the national average of 24 percent.
File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal