What can “never-smokers” teach us about lung cancer?

Searching for causes of lung cancer in never-smokers with the Sherlock-Lung study


Lung cancer in never-smokers accounts for 10-25% of lung cancer cases worldwide and has few established risk factors. The Sherlock-Lung study, sponsored by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), is collecting biospecimens, data, and imaging from 2,000+ cases of lung cancer in never-smokers worldwide and performing molecular, genetic, histologic, radiologic, and epidemiologic analyses.


In support to NCI, Westat coordinates with hospitals, universities, biobanks, medical centers, laboratories, and institutes in the Americas, Caribbean, Europe, Africa, Middle East, and Australia to disseminate information about the Sherlock-Lung project and foster collaborations.  

We oversee the collection of biospecimens (fresh frozen tissue, formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded [FFPE] tissue, blood, and plasma); data (clinical and epidemiological); and other materials (pathology reports, radiology images, and radiology reports).

In supporting these tasks, Westat

  • Works closely with the NCI Principal Investigator (PI) and NCI laboratory to monitor study progress and ensure priority activities are implemented
  • Supports the PI with technical writing requests and meeting preparation and documentation for high-level, sensitive-content Division and Advisory Board meetings
  • Identified 100+ potential collaborators worldwide and established relationships to determine feasibility of collaborations; facilitated meetings with potential partners; and attended a conference in Mozambique to identify collaborators in Africa
  • Coordinates with collaborators to establish budgets, Material Transfer Agreements, Statements of Work, Subcontracts, or Purchase Orders
  • Facilitates biospecimen shipping from sites to the NCI laboratory, and monitors biospecimen processing status for reporting to the PI


Sherlock-Lung aims to integrate molecular, epidemiologic, histological, and radiological data to provide a more refined classification of lung cancers in never-smokers. The study will contribute to the understanding of the etiology and progression of lung cancer in never-smokers and provide clues into prognosis and treatment strategies.


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