UPCI’s Burns Wins Two National Awards for Lung Cancer Research

By: Jennifer C. Yates

A UPMC CancerCenter medical oncologist and University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute researcher has won two national awards for his continuing work into understanding and screening for lung cancer, the country’s top cancer killer.

Timothy Burns, M.D., Ph.D., received a Doris Duke Clinical Scientist award from the Doris Duke Foundation. The three-year, $450,000 grant will support research into KRAS mutant non-small cell lung cancer, which accounts for about a quarter of all lung cancers and is resistant to drug therapy. Dr. Burns is trying to find out more about that treatment resistance and find ways to overcome it.


“Lung cancer isn’t just one disease but a host of different diseases driven by cancer genes. By understanding this, we hope to find better ways to inhibit cancer growth and truly make personalized medicine a reality for patients,” said Dr. Burns, also an assistant professor of medicine at Pitt.

Dr. Burns was also one of just 15 people chosen by the Sidney Kimmel Foundation for Cancer Research for the Kimmel Scholar Program. The award recognizes promising young and innovative scientists.  He will receive $200,000 over two years for his work into targeting an important protein in KRAS mutant lung cancer, TWIST1, which when absent causes cancer cells to die.