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Two Chicago Researchers Join American Lung Association Research Team

Lung Association expands research investment to $8.7 million, making headway on its commitment to double its investment in research

(November 21, 2019) - CHICAGO

For more information please contact:

Jill Thompson
[email protected]

Today the American Lung Association announced its new research team, which includes Valerie Press, M.D., M.P.H., from the University of Chicago and Kim Ji Yeon, Ph.D., from the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago. This year, the organization has also increased its research investment to $8.7 million, through awards for both our Airways Clinical Research Center (ACRC) Network and its innovative Awards & Grants program. This announcement comes at an important time, as November is both Lung Cancer Awareness Month and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Awareness Month.

The Awards and Grants Program provides investigators with the funds, at all levels of their career, to conduct novel and promising research to prevent, treat and even cure lung cancer and lung disease. The ACRC is the nation's largest not-for-profit network of clinical research centers dedicated to asthma and COPD treatment research that promises to have a direct, positive impact on patient care.

Research projects funded by the Lung Association are carefully selected through rigorous scientific review and represent the investigation of a wide range of complex issues to help combat and reduce the suffering and burden of lung disease. Researchers in Chicago received the following awards:

Innovation Award
Dr. Press’ research at the University of Chicago, titled “COPD Tools: Comprehensive Approach to Developing High Impact COPD Readmission Reduction Tools” was given the Innovation Award.

COPD is among the leading causes of early hospital readmissions. In response to this, U.S. hospitals have begun implementing COPD readmission reduction programs. However, these programs use costly resources without clearly effective strategies and a lack of tools by which to personalize interventions. Dr. Press aims to develop highly accurate tools to identify high-risk COPD patients and target the most effective interventions to the appropriate patient populations. She will do this by identifying factors that contribute to patients' readmission and to identify current interventions that attempt to reduce readmissions among COPD patients.

Lung Cancer Discovery Award
Dr. Kim’s research at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago was awarded the Lung Cancer Discovery Award. The research project, titled “Targeting Hexosamine Pathway in an Aggressive Subtype of Lung Cancer,” has the potential to identify new treatment strategies for lung cancer.

The formation of cancer is regulated by changes to specific genes that control energy and processing of nutrients. These steps are needed for the cancer to keep proliferating. We have found that the cellular content of sugar-related molecules called hexosamines is dramatically increased by a combination of two of the most common gene mutations in lung cancer. This increase leads to important processes that occur in cancer development. We will study how these mutations increase hexosamine metabolism in lung cancer, and evaluate if targeting this molecule can be beneficial for treating lung cancer.

See project overviews of all funded projects at

For media interested in speaking with an expert about lung health and the Lung Association Research Team, contact Jill Thompson at [email protected] or 312-940-7001.


About the American Lung Association

The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit:

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