QSU Investigator Summer Han Collaborates with Clinicians to Attack Second Primary Lung Cancer


Although her particular expertise is in data science, Summer Han, PhD, is motivated to work with investigators who are making an impact in clinical practice.

That became evident in 2015, when Han began a key collaboration with Oncology Division Chief Heather Wakelee, MD. In Wakelee’s lung cancer clinic were survivors who were developing a second primary lung cancer (SPLC). Because it was not clear who was at high risk for developing SPLC, Wakelee wanted help in developing strategies for advising long-term lung cancer survivors.

Han, a principal investigator in the Quantitative Sciences Unit (QSU), worked with Wakelee to develop a pioneering SPLC prediction model based on factors such as age, sex, race, treatment, histology, stage, and extent of disease. They evaluated the clinical utility of the model by calculating its net benefit in varied risk thresholds for screening and in 2017 published the results of a study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The authors noted that the model did not include other key information on genetics, smoking, and other factors that could contribute to the prediction model for SPLC. That led Han to seek, and receive, a National Cancer Institute R37 MERIT Award for an Early Stage Investigator. The five-year grant is supporting research to identify the genetic, clinical, and environmental determinants for SPLC, to assess an individual’s risk of developing SPLC, and to evaluate efficient lung screening strategies for SPLC to help inform the development of consensus screening guidelines for lung cancer survivors.

As a primary investigator running her own lab, she relies on the multidisciplinary strengths of biostatisticians, epidemiologists, and medical doctors on her team as she pursues studies with practical ramifications. As an example, Han had developed a mathematical model that she wanted to convert into a web-based risk assessment tool to aid clinical decision making for lung cancer patients and survivors. Results to date led to the publication of Development and Validation of a Risk Prediction Model for Second Primary Lung Cancer in the July 13, 2021 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

In practice, Wakelee and other oncologists at Stanford Health Care plan to use this app in counseling prospective patients.

“I don’t want the results of my work to just sit in the literature. I want to be involved in activities that have an impact on clinical practice at Stanford and beyond,” she said.


Inquiries about the work of Summer Han may be sent to contact-BMIR@stanford.edu.

Summer Han, PhD

Stanford University