U of M Medical School researchers lead new Upper Midwest VA Lung Cancer Screening and Research Network

The Minneapolis VA Health Care System becomes one of two hubs to receive the $4.5 million grant from the Veterans Health Administration

MINNEAPOLIS/ST.PAUL (03/31/2021) — Two researchers from the University of Minnesota Medical School, who also practice at the Minneapolis VA Health Care System, join the Omaha VA Medical Center to lead the Upper Midwest VA Lung Cancer Screening and Research Network as part of a nationwide VA-funded Lung Precision Oncology Program (LPOP). The $4.5 million grant supports an expansion in lung cancer screenings and research among veterans.

Professor Chris Wendt, MD, and Associate Professor Mark Klein, MD, both in the Department of Medicine, will lead the grant, along with a third researcher from the Omaha VA Medical Center.

“These two hubs are particularly well-suited due to its close association with two National Cancer Institute-designated centers, including the Masonic Cancer Center and the University of Nebraska Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center,” Wendt said. 

The two hubs will provide leadership in study development and data management, as well as facilitate the development of patient and staff educational materials for lung cancer screenings – all with the goal of increasing veteran access and participation in lung cancer research.

“This network will ensure that veterans can participate in clinical trials and lung cancer screenings regardless of where they live,” Klein said. “Veterans are underrepresented in lung cancer clinical trials for a variety of reasons. Barriers may include long distance to travel for care, comorbidities and lack of available trials. LPOP resources will help to alleviate many of these barriers.”

The research team will have the network set up by the end of 2021. After year five of the grant, it is expected that the network has established a strong portfolio of clinical trials with plans on how to sustain the network independently in the future.


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