Dr. Sears is a physician scientist with a focus on lung cancer. Our laboratory focuses on the impact of DNA damage and repair on the development of smoking related lung cancers and to treatment response. Our overall goal is to determine the key mechanisms involved in early smoking related lung cancer development which can be used to identify prognosis and/or targeted with therapeutics to prevent progression. Her laboratory is currently focusing on how impaired DNA repair impacts cigarette smoke-induced lung cancer development, genomic instability and mechanisms of cell death, including apoptosis, senescence and autophagy. Along with collaborating scientists, Dr. Sears investigates targeting of DNA repair proteins and mechanisms to augment lung cancer treatment response (with Dr. John Turchi, Indiana University – Oncology), the impact of DNA repair and cigarette smoke on pulmonary cell fate and emphysema (with Dr. Irina Petrache, National Jewish Health), effects of inflammation and HIV infection on DNA damage and repair (with Dr. Homer Twigg, IU – Pulmonary) and mechanisms of EMAP II on lung cancer pathology (with Dr. Matthias Clauss, IU - Cellular & Integrative Physiology).
Dr. Sears is co-director of the Pulmonary Oncology clinic at the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center, where she sees patients with and at risk for lung cancer, and serves as the site PI for the VALOR trial (Veterans Affairs Lung Cancer or Stereotactic Radiotherapy, NCT02984761). Dr. Sears also sees pulmonary and critical care patients at Eskenazi Health Main Campus. She is an active member of a number of professional societies, including the American Thoracic Society, American College of Chest Physicians and the International Society for the Study of Lung Cancer. She actively serves in a selection and advisory role as a member of the IU Pulmonary and Critical Care Fellowship Committee. Dr. Sears serves on several mentoring committees and enjoys training post-doctoral fellows, residents, medical students and undergraduates, which includes participation in the Life Health Sciences Initiative (LHSI) and the Summer Research Program in Academic Medicine (SPRinAM).