Mar 01, 2019 8:00 AM


Three people standing in a hallway reading a chart
Left to right: Paul LaStayo, PhD; Cornelia Ulrich, PhD; and Thomas Varghese Jr., MD

In 2017, lung cancer patient Eveline Bruenger had lunch with several lung cancer physicians at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI). They talked about the collaborative nature of lung cancer research and care at HCI. When Eveline passed away in 2018, she bequeathed more than $1 million to the lung cancer research team. Her generous donation is funding projects like the Precision Exercise Prescription (PEP) study.

The PEP study is a collaboration between medical doctors, researchers, physical therapists, and patients. Led by Cornelia Ulrich, PhD, professor of population health sciences; Thomas Varghese Jr., MD, associate professor in the department of surgery; and Paul LaStayo, PhD, professor of physical therapy and athletic training, the PEP study looks at how an exercise program tailored for each patient can improve long-term outcomes after lung cancer surgery.

"The goal is not just to get the patients cancer-free," explains Dr. Varghese, "but also to enable them to live cancer-free—to get them in the best optimal shape for their surgery and in the best possible shape for their lives going forward."

Those involved in the study are excited about its collaborative nature. "Working with the best researchers from many disciplines makes a big difference," says Dr. Ulrich. "We are undertaking innovative research that we anticipate will change clinical practice by testing an exercise intervention that can be easily adapted to the clinic flow."

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Cancer touches all of us.

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