Big Ideas

Chad V. Pecot, M.D.

The urgency in cancer research is palpable. Progress is being seen, and that means more options, more treatments and longer survival for those living with the disease. In a nutshell, we’re heading in the right direction. But our finish line is still a vision we see up ahead. That’s where funding research comes in. Without it, the finish line is a mirage. With it, we win the race.

Dr. Chad Pecot’s research has been funded twice by the V Foundation, both times for projects that show promise in treating certain lung cancers. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S., accounting for about a quarter of all cancer deaths.

While some lung cancers have seen promising results in survival rates and new treatment options have been developed recently, other lung cancers have had slower success with no clear path of treatment. That’s what Pecot hopes to change.

Pecot explained that cancer takes advantage of the body. In simple terms, it can turn on and off biological processes in the body to help it survive, grow and spread. His 2014 V Scholar grant funded research focused on stopping cancer from migrating from its point of origin in the body, specifically in lung cancer. This is especially important because metastases account for approximately 90% of cancer-related deaths.

His 2016 grant, funded by the Stuart Scott Memorial Research Fund and the Lung Cancer Initiative of North Carolina, is for research that also has interest in metastases of lung cancer. While some lung cancers have seen promising results in survival rates and new treatment options have been developed recently, other lung cancers have had slower success with no clear path of treatment. That’s what Pecot hopes to change.

“Cancer recruits immune cells, takes advantage of them and even uses the immune cells to help them spread. We are working to determine which tumors are doing this. We are testing whether this phenomena occurs more often in African Americans than Caucasians,” Pecot said. “The 2016 grant from the Foundation is funding the study of the tumors and their [genetic] signatures. Success [in the lab] means we could better predict which patients will benefit from immunotherapy. We have some other grants, at the same time, that help pay for the medicine part of the research. That means we could go to clinical trials sooner.”

As a cancer survivor himself, Pecot understands the urgency of better treatments and more options. Once headed into the biomedical engineering field, his focus changed after his diagnosis. By the second month of his residency, after meeting a lung cancer researcher, he knew he wanted to make a mark.

“I wanted to make the biggest impact possible, and lung cancer is the biggest killer of cancer patients,” Pecot explained. “Our ultimate hope is that the biology we uncover from of our research will [also] be relevant to other cancers and can help create other therapies.”

The Stuart Scott Memorial Research Fund was created in celebration of Stuart Scott’s life. The fund focuses on supporting minority researchers or those working to end the disparities among minority cancer patients. Pecot has taken on a mighty task – working against an aggressive cancer and working to stop it in those so adversely affected. His research is helping to bring that finish line into focus.

Click here to donate to the Stuart Scott Memorial Research Fund.