CHICAGO, IL | October 12, 2023
Today, the American Lung Association Research Institute announced it awarded $13.6 million in research grants to fund 129 innovative projects to advance today’s science to end the burden of lung disease tomorrow. Lung research is critical because one in 10 people in the U.S. are living with a lung disease and each year, millions of people are impacted by respiratory viruses like COVID-19 and influenza.
Through the Awards and Grants Program, the Lung Association supports trailblazing research, novel ideas and innovative approaches. The funded researchers investigate a wide range of lung health topics, including asthma, COPD, lung cancer and more.
“Research is the key to unlocking solutions to alleviate the burden of lung disease. The Lung Association’s Awards and Grants Program promotes innovative research, collaboration, translation of discoveries and scientific exchange to transform today’s science into tomorrow’s solutions,” said Harold Wimmer, President and CEO of the American Lung Association. “We are honored to welcome the members of our new research team and empower them to help us find solutions to prevent lung disease and improve the lives of people living with lung disease.”
Recently funded Lung Association researchers are already making an impact. In fact, one of the projects that was funded just a few years ago has already seen results and was published in a peer-reviewed journal. Miranda L. Curtiss, M.D., Ph.D., was awarded the ALA/AAAAI Allergic Respiratory Diseases Award and recently published the paper, “Chitinase-3-like 1 regulates TH2 cells, TFH cells and IgE responses to helminth infection” in Frontiers in Immunology. This study identified the role of a protein called chitinase-3-like-1 (CHI3L1) in the immune response to infection. This is an important finding because previous studies have shown higher levels of this protein in the lungs and blood of people with asthma, and understanding how it affects immune response can lead to better treatment for asthma.
This year, awards were given in different categories addressing many aspects of lung disease: ALA/AAAAI Allergic Respiratory Diseases Award, ALA/ATS/CHEST Foundation Respiratory Health Equity Research Award, Catalyst Award, COVID-19 Respiratory Virus Research Award, Dalsemer Award, Innovation Award and Lung Cancer Discovery Award. Research projects funded by the Lung Association are carefully selected through rigorous scientific peer review and awardees represent the investigation of a wide range of complex issues.
A few of the recent grant awardees include:
- Catalyst Award presented to Amanda Wilson, Ph.D., from the Arizona Board of Regents, University of Arizona for her study on asthma titled, “Protecting Asthmatic Children’s Health by Reducing Respiratory Viral Infections in Schools: A Novel Risk Analysis Tool.” The burden of respiratory viral diseases (flu, RSV, COVID-19) is on the rise in the U.S., posing risks for children with asthma. This research aims to create a risk calculator tool for school health personnel to support real-time decision making to reduce virus spread in schools across the US.
- Lung Cancer Discovery Award presented to Lucas Ferrari de Andrade, Ph.D., from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, for his project titled, “Promoting Natural Killer Cell-driven Immunity Against Lung Cancer.” Immunotherapy plays a pivotal role in the elimination of tumor cells, but many patients with lung cancer are either resistant or develop acquired resistance to the current immunotherapies available. The goal of this research is to develop an alternative, unique approach that trains white blood cells to recognize and destroy tumor cells. In the long term, researchers hope that this will help provide a new treatment for patients and could prolong their lives or even cure this disease.
- COVID-19 & Emerging Respiratory Viruses Research Award presented to Mohsan Saeed, Ph.D., from Trustees of Boston University, for his project, “Deciphering the Determinants of Coronaviral Tissue Tropism.” Previous work by Dr. Saeed showed that in contrast to all other SARS-CoV-2 variants that mainly infect the lungs, the recently identified Omicron variant tends to infect the upper respiratory tract, most likely because of modifications to the spike protein. The goal of their research is to determine how and why Omicron prefers to target the upper respiratory tract and use that information to improve treatment and outcomes of this disease.
The Lung Association’s Research Institute includes the Awards and Grants program, and also the Airways Clinical Research Network, the nation's largest not-for-profit network of clinical research centers dedicated to asthma and COPD treatment research. The Lung Association is currently accepting applications for its 2024-2025 research awards and grants cycle. For more information about the active research funding opportunities, visit Lung.org/awards.
For more information about the new grant awardees and the entire American Lung Association research team, visit Lung.org/research-team.
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to champion clean air for all; to improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and to create a tobacco-free future. For more information about the American Lung Association, which has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and is a Platinum-Level GuideStar Member, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org. To support the work of the American Lung Association, find a local event at Lung.org/events.
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