Laurie Carson, Lung Cancer Research Association

Laurie Carson

Laurie Carson
Founder and Chairman
Lung Cancer Research Foundation

Laurie grew up in South Hampton, Long Island and has a BS degree from Colby- Sawyer College, in New London, NH and a degree of Advanced Study in Medical Technology from the Princeton Medical Center in Princeton, NJ.

“I started to love science in high school and realized I enjoyed chemistry and math. When I went off to college, I concentrated very much on the life sciences and at one point I even thought I would like to be a doctor.”


 

In between college and working, Laurie had major back surgery and was in a body cast for one year. After her recovery she worked in the Bio Chemistry Departments at New York Hospital and the Hospital for Special  Surgery, where she had been a patient.

Because Laurie loved the hospital environment and learning more about science and medicine, she volunteered at Memorial Sloan-Kettering and joined the women’s board, the Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering. She has been a member for around 20 years, on the executive committee, ran their annual appeals and has been treasurer and president. During her presidency her brother was diagnosed with lung cancer and died in 9 months. Six months later her uncle was diagnosed with lung cancer and had only 2 months to live.

“I went to the head of public affairs at Memorial Sloan-Kettering and asked: why isn’t more being done about lung cancer as the numbers are staggering?” The answer given was that it was a very common disease but no one was doing much about it.” Laurie started an initiative for Memorial Sloan-Kettering and the money raised went to the thoracic oncology department.

“When my term was up as president the Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering,¬† I realized there needed to be a disease specific organization to raise funds for lung cancer research. I put my love of science together with my passion for the cause and decided to begin the Lung Cancer Research Foundation 7 years ago.”

With what Laurie describes as “a big leap of faith” she worked with a doctor and her mentor at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, who helped her put together a medical advisory board of doctors with specialities in different disciplines. Then she approached people affected by the disease and put together a board of trustees consisting of people with different skills and a passion for the disease. Since the Foundation began, it has raised over $7 million dollars and funded 74 grants totalling $3.8 million in research.

Laurie said “I did everything in the beginning. It was like starting a new business. As things began snowballing, I was able to hire an executive director, event co-ordinator and an operations / database manager. With an infrastructure in place, my role is chairman, fund-raising and overseeing the team.”

The biggest challenges of running the Foundation are attracting really good people who share a passion for the cause, raising funds and building awareness and an understanding for the need to find a cure for lung cancer.

Laurie says the most rewarding and enjoyable aspect of her job is meeting and getting to know the most brilliant minds in research, seeing how dedicated they are and seeing the advances in medicine that have been made for the disease in the last 7 years. Big advancements in the treatment of the disease are ” novel” targeted ” therapies” and ” personalized medicine”. Patients live so much longer now with a better quality of life.

When Laurie has free time, she enjoys gardening, flower arranging and playing bridge.