Alumna Dr. Sophia Lunt Receives Grant for Transformative Cancer Research

Alumna Dr. Sophia Lunt poses in a science laboratory

It is not every day that an individual has the honor to introduce a respected member of the United States government, or be one of four recipients of a national science grant. However, Lebanon Valley College alumna Dr. Sophia Lunt ’05 was able to accomplish both. 

After graduating from LVC, Dr. Lunt furthered her education at Princeton University, receiving a Ph.D. in chemistry in 2010. Following Princeton, she pursued post-doctoral training at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Currently, Dr. Lunt leads a cancer research lab at Michigan State University (MSU) as a tenure-track assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology. 

This year, Dr. Lunt received a highly competitive research grant from the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), whose mission is to prevent and cure all cancers. The grant, AACR-Incyte NextGen Grant for Transformative Cancer Research, will provide Dr. Lunt with $450,000 over a period of three years. She is one of four scientists nationally to receive a NextGen Grant for Transformative Cancer Research from the AACR. Dr. Lunt will conduct highly stimulated research focused on targeting metabolic pathways that fuel pancreatic tumor growth. Pancreatic cancer is a deadly disease with extremely limited treatment options, and the current five-year survival is only 6%.

On April 19, at the AACR annual meeting in New Orleans, Dr. Lunt was selected to introduce Vice President of the United States Joe Biden and his wife, Second Lady Jill Biden, for their keynote address. “I am truly honored to have had the opportunity to introduce Vice President Joe Biden and Second Lady Jill Biden at the AACR meeting. Their remarkable commitment to supporting cancer research has already had tremendous impact, and will pave the path toward ending cancer,” expressed Lunt. 

In addition to her recent success at Michigan State University, Dr. Lunt has received multiple awards for her research. In 2015, Dr. Lunt received a Breast Cancer Research Program Breakthrough Award totaling $450,000 from the Department of Defense, and a Mayo Clinic Metabolomics Research Core Pilot and Feasibility Grant. She also presented a TEDx talk at MSU. Her research is focused on understanding the role of metabolism in supporting cancer proliferation, heterogeneity, and metastasis.