Jill Luttman has seen cancer her whole life. When she was young, she watched as her mother volunteered and ran marathons to help patients fighting cancer. In high school, her grandfather was diagnosed with lung cancer and eventually passed away. It was watching his battle that eventually led her into the cancer research field.
“I watched my grandfather and the coordinated efforts of his medical team and was always doing my best to learn about the medications he was taking,” said Luttman. “I always wondered, ‘Is there more that can be done? Are there better ways to target and treat his cancer?’”
That wonder turned into a career. Luttman attended NC State University and is now a Ph.D. candidate in Molecular Cancer Biology at Duke University. And she is already making waves in the field.
“My thesis work has identified ways to utilize approved FDA therapeutics to target tumor metabolic vulnerabilities in a safe and tolerable manner,” said Luttman. “I am currently finishing up experiments related to the first and hope to publish this work in the upcoming months.”
Through her work, along with the members of her lab, her team has partnered with the Duke Cancer Institute to start a clinical trial that will focus on treating patients with breast and lung cancer metastases to the brain that have failed previous treatments.
For Luttman, participating in the Victory Ride to Cure Cancer was an easy choice. She has connections to NC State and Duke (She is participating as part of the Duke Cancer Institute team.), and her father is an avid cyclist.
“He’s been doing this as long as I can remember, so to be able to participate with him after so many years of cheering him on is an exciting experience for me,” she said.
Even though things will look a little different in the reimagined Victory Ride this year, Luttman and her dad will still be able to ride together to support cancer research, and she is defining her Victory Ride by her fundraising efforts. She has already met her fundraising goal, and knows her efforts, both in the lab and outside, are moving us closer to Victory Over Cancer®.
The question that still lingers for Luttman: “Can we do more?” But she sees firsthand how we are moving forward.
“All I know is that I am going to do my best to continue our research and find new ways to fight cancer.”