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  • FY16 Annual Report Research

Funded $6.49 Million in Research in 2016

Medical research is a cornerstone of our mission and the promise of better treatments, and ultimately cures that can make lung disease a distant memory. At the American Lung Association, this promise is fulfilled every year in ways that have a direct, life-changing impact on patients' lives. Our research program includes our Awards and Grants Program and our Airways Clinical Research Centers network (ACRC).

Our Awards and Grants Program provides investigators with the funds they need to initiate and grow their lung disease careers. This year, the program funded 36 new awardees and 34 continuing awardees—70 awards in total. Our Research Team is engaged in a wide range of studies exploring an array of lung health issues, including:

Making a Difference

  • Funded $6.49M in research in 2016
  • Funded 70 awards: 36 new awardees and 34 continuing awardees
  • Funded 25 lung cancer research grants totaling over $2M
  • Announced inaugural Lung Cancer in Women Research Grant ($400K over 3 years)
  • Increased impact on asthma and COPD patients through our enhanced ACRC

17 Airways Clinical Research Centers with 24 Trial Sites, 1 Data Coordinating Center and 100+ asthma and COPD specialists.

Our Airways Clinical Research Centers Network is the nation's largest not-for-profit network of clinical research centers dedicated to asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) treatment research. In the past year, the ACRC network enhanced its ability to improve the lives of people with asthma and COPD by adding new centers and new experts. Not only have five new centers been added to the network, but all returning centers underwent a competitive process to continue as part of the network—resulting in a stronger more effective network across the board.

Through our LUNG FORCE initiative, we also launched a new award targeting lung cancer, the Lung Cancer in Women Research Award.

Research Results—Impacting Asthma Care

Data from an ACRC study has helped us better understand overuse of the asthma medication albuterol, and was published in the prestigious Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. This new data could help reduce poor outcomes in asthma patients, including the risk of clinical depression.

In May, results of the ACRC Long-acting Beta Agonist Step-Down Study (LASST) on how to reduce treatment in well-controlled asthmatic patients were presented at the national meeting of the American Thoracic Society. The results of this study will have a significant impact on asthma patient care.


A Career Ladder in Lung Health Research

Sweta Mishra, PhD and Brittany Sexton, PhD

One of the important functions of the Lung Associations Awards and Grants program is to fund young investigators, early in their careers, and encourage the best and the brightest to continue their careers in the field of lung health research. These awards offer a "career ladder” for researchers from pre-doctoral standing to junior investigator and independent investigator and mentor, while advancing science and contributing to the better understanding of lung disease.

A perfect example is American Lung Association Lung Cancer Discovery Award recipient, Johnathan Whetstine, Ph.D., associate professor at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center in Boston. As head of the Whetstine Lab, he leads a team that is investigating the microenvironment of tumors and the molecular and genomic relationship to treatment resistance with the ultimate goal of improved chemotherapies and targeted treatments for lung cancer. Working with him and under his mentorship are post-doctoral fellows and Senior Research Training Fellowship recipients, Sweta Mishra, Ph.D. and Brittany Sexton, Ph.D. As part of Dr. Whetstine's team, Drs. Mishra and Sexton are studying a protein called KDM4A and its role in resistance to lung cancer chemotherapy. This research aims to identify novel therapeutic targets for treating drug-resistant non-small cell lung cancer.

For decades, the Lung Association's research program has supported young investigators, like Mishra and Sexton, with the goal that as they achieve success and independence as investigators, they too become mentors and provide opportunities for junior investigators to build their careers around lung health research.

Learn more about our research