Upstage Lung Cancer Funds Biomarker Sensor Project Supporting Early Lung Cancer Detection

Hildy Grossman and Dr. Nian Sun at Northeastern University Cover
Hildy Grossman and Dr. Nian Sun at Northeastern University Cover
Hildy Grossman, President and Founder of Upstage Lung Cancer
with Nian Sun, PhD, Director, W.M. Keck Laboratory for Integrated Ferroics, Northeastern University,
courtesy image

Grant facilitates cutting edge research at Northeastern University’s Advanced Materials and Microsystems Laboratory – Boston-based organization Upstage Lung Cancer (ULC), the advocacy non-profit exclusively utilizing performing arts to raise awareness and funding in the fight against lung cancer, announces a $30,000 grant award to Northeastern University’s cutting edge Advanced Materials and Microsystems Laboratory (AMML), substantially funding a new research project exploring the use of a hand-held gas screening sensor system for breath biomarkers in the early detection screening of lung cancer.

“Our proposed gas sensors are both portable and affordable for all clinics with the capacity to detect lung cancer by sensing the biomarker volatile organic compounds from exhaled breath,” shares Dr. Nian Sun, head of the research project, also the director of W.M. Keck Laboratory for Integrated Ferroics and professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and Bioengineering Departments at Northeastern University.  “This will allow non-invasive testing to help stratify likelihood of malignancy, thereby decreasing the number of complications and costs associated with procedures.”

Northeastern University’s AMML is a group of scientists working at the cutting edge on magnetic, multiferroic, ferroelectric, thermoelectric, and other advanced materials and microsystems. AMML’s research interests include novel integrated magnetic, ferroelectric and multiferroic materials and microsystems for sensing, memory, power, radio frequency (RF) and microwave electronics. Specifically, the Lab works on materials and microsystems for biomagnetic sensing, micromagnetic neural stimulation, room-temperature electro-magneto-encephalography, different tunable RF/microwave components, including multiferroic antennas, tunable inductors, filters, phase shifters, isolators, circulators, integrated thermoelectric materials and devices, materials and devices for vibration energy harvesting applications and more.

AMML’s research project explores the development of a new ultra-sensitive, highly specific hand-held gas sensor system for biomarker volatile organic compounds from exhaled breath for early screening of lung cancer.  This inexpensive and portable technology has the potential to increase screening rates and reduce procedures for false positives. This technology will be developed for diagnosis of lung cancer within a high-risk population within an established clinical lung screening program.

Dr. Nian Sun, Professor, Northeastern University Electrical and Computer Engineering

“We expect that our proposed gas sensors will be widely used for lung cancer screening and enable non-invasive testing of indeterminate nodules, which has been challenging to date,”  shares Dr. Sun.  The sensors would also create the potential for lung screening in remote areas that lack a local computed tomography (CT) scanner, the most widely recognized device for this use.

“Over the past decade I’ve witnessed many advances,” says Hildy Grossman, founder of Upstage Lung Cancer and one of the five percent of survivors enjoying life 11 years beyond diagnosis. “New treatments emerge each year. And yet, we still must find a reliable method to discover lung cancer at the earliest possible moment to extend and improve lives. With advances, there are good reasons for hope.”

Upstage Lung Cancer is a vibrant and unique non-profit organization that has excelled for over a decade in its mission to create awareness and fund early detection research for lung cancer, the number one cancer killer.  Founded in Boston in 2008, ULC is the only cancer advocate organization to exclusively utilize music and the performing arts to increase awareness, de-stigmatize the lung cancer disease and raise funds for cutting-edge early detection research. Since its inception, Upstage Lung Cancer has funded nearly $3 million in early detection research grants, investing in the finest research opportunities available. (ULC’s funded research list at Upstage Lung Cancer maintains ongoing partnerships with LUNGevity Foundation, Addario Lung Cancer Medical Institute for its concerts.

Celebrating its 11th year, Upstage Lung Cancer continues its mission to raiser funds for early lung cancer detection and research with the benefit cabaret concert, A Musical Tribute To Walt Disney: When you Wish Upon A Star, on Tuesday, October 29, 7:30 pm at the Mosesian Center for the Arts, 321 Arsenal Street, Watertown.  A pre-concert silent auction begins at 6 pm.  Presented in partnership with the LUNGevity Foundation, all proceeds from the performance support early lung cancer detection research.  A high-spirited evening of music making and storytelling, A Musical Tribute to Walt Disney, honors Disney’s legacy and works in song, exploring the imaginative genius who brought the joy and fantasy of childhood to life. In 1966, at the age of 65, Walt Disney died of lung cancer. Few creative individuals have made such a long-lasting and indelible mark on American life and culture. Tickets are available at  Upstage Lung Cancer offers complimentary tickets to lung cancer survivors. 

For more information about Upstage Lung Cancer, its mission or A Musical Tribute To Walt Disney, visit  For more information about Northeastern University’s AMML, visit

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