First Ever Millennial Lung Health Study Wins $24.8 Million Funding Grant

American Lung Association partners in revolutionary study tracking young adult's lung health nationwide in hopes of changing the way we address and prevent lung disease.

The American Lung Association and Northwestern Medicine have been awarded a $24.8 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to conduct the first federally funded U.S. cohort study of millennials. The American Lung Association Lung Health Cohort will be the largest study ever funded for the Lung Association. Though similar studies have been conducted for heart disease this is the first ever to examine lung health that can be translated into actions for preventative care.

Historically, lung health has been studied only after the appearance of chronic lung disease. Little has been done, however, to learn about the evolution of respiratory disease and determine how a young, healthy adult's lung function declines over time. This information can help us better understand why lung disease is currently the fourth leading cause of death, and lung cancer is the number one cancer killer.
Here are some highlights from the upcoming study:

  • It will follow 4,000 young adults at the age of peak lung health, from 25 to 35 years old, from 17 different regions across the U.S. This large, geographic cross-section should paint a clear picture of lung health across the nation.
  • Each participant will be tracked for six years. They'll provide information on lung function, respiratory symptoms, lifetime residential and occupational histories, health behaviors, fitness, biomarkers, and chest imaging.
  • This study will use low-dose CT scans to track intermediate stages of lung injury and abnormalities in the participants' windpipes.
  • The American Lung Association's Airways Clinical Research Centers (ACRC) Network will conduct the research, working closely with researchers at Northwestern, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, University of Michigan, University of Alabama-Birmingham, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and all the centers of the ACRC network.

Additionally, researchers hope to determine whether air pollution, inhalants like marijuana and e-cigarettes, and other outside factors have a correlation with lower lung function. By identifying these factors, we cannot only help people catch lung disease earlier but work to prevent it.

"This promises to be among the most innovative and significant longitudinal studies conducted to-date during this century," Dr. Ravi Kalhan, M.D., MS, Northwestern Medicine Pulmonologist and American Lung Association Lung Health Cohort Principal Investigator explained. "The promise of the American Lung Association Health Cohort Study is that by filling in this knowledge gap about how chronic lung diseases evolve, scientists can propose new interception and prevention strategies that may effectively reduce the physical, emotional, financial and social burden of chronic lung disease."

For 115 years, the American Lung Association has made it our mission to help fight lung disease through extensive medical research.  We have funded breakthroughs in the fight against tuberculosis, identified genes that cause the development of lung cancer and cystic fibrosis, and developed new ways to treat respiratory distress syndrome. In 1999, the Airways Clinical Research Centers (ACRC) Network was established to focus its efforts on asthma and COPD. Now the nation's largest not-for-profit network of clinical research centers, the ACRC will utilize all its resources to conduct this groundbreaking study.

"This first-of-its-kind study will engage the broader scientific community in an effort to understand respiratory disease and will serve as a pivotal step forward for the lung health and lives of all Americans," American Lung Association President and CEO Harold Wimmer said. "The Lung Association is proud that our Airways Clinical Research Centers Network serves as an integral part of this important work."

If you are interested in knowing more about The American Lung Association's Lung Health Cohort study, sign up today.

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