BALTIMORE, MD | November 24, 2020
In an effort to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, the American Lung Association invests in promising lung health research. The organization recently announced an investment in 98 promising lung health research awards, including a combined $350,000 in funding for five Baltimore-Washington metro area researchers. Local research award recipients are: Katharina Maisel, Ph.D., Gregg Duncan, Ph.D., and Zafar Zafiri, M.D., Ph.D. of the University of Maryland; Kathryn Taylor, Ph.D., Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center; and Pranita D. Tamma, M.D., M.H.S., John Hopkins University School of Medicine. The American Lung Association funds a wide range of research to improve lung health, including COVID-19, lung cancer, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pulmonary fibrosis and more.
“More than 36 million Americans are living with lung disease, placing them at increased risk for the most severe impacts of COVID-19. The American Lung Association recognizes that now is a crucial time to champion lung health, and is investing in promising lung health research, Katharina Maisel, Ph.D., Gregg Duncan, Ph.D., and Zafar Zafiri, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Maryland; Kathryn Taylor, Ph.D., Georgetown University; and Pranita Tamma, M.D, M.H.S., John Hopkins University School of Medicine,” said American Lung Association Chief Mission Officer Deborah Brown. “We’re proud to support promising scientists to help us realize our vision of a world free of lung disease.”
Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center:
Dr. Taylor’s research at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center of Medicine titled “Testing Methods to Increase Lung Cancer Screening Among Quitline Callers” was given the Lung Cancer Discovery Award and received $100,000 for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. The Lung Cancer Discovery Award will fund Taylor’s project to compare two methods of educating Maryland Quitline callers that will potentially increase lung cancer screening and reduce lung cancer deaths through CT screening and treatment of early stage disease.
“Increasing uptake among eligible individuals is central to achieving the maximum health impact of lung cancer screening. One large group who is eligible for lung screening are older smokers who utilize state quitlines for help with quitting. Nationwide, the state quitlines provide evidence-based tobacco treatment each year to over 120,000 smokers who are age 55 or older. We will assess whether older smokers who are considering quitting can also be encouraged to consider undergoing lung cancer screening. The study team is grateful to receive this funding from the American Lung Association and is looking forward to helping increase awareness about lung cancer screening among Maryland quitline callers,” said Taylor, professor of oncology at Georgetown.
John Hopkins University School of Medicine Researcher
Dr. Tamma’s research at John Hopkins University School of Medicine titled “Reducing the Development of Resistance to Anti-Pseudomonal Antibiotics,” was given the Innovation Award and received $75,000 for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. The Innovation Award will fund Dr. Tamma’s work to identify novel mechanisms of resistance of Pseudomonas aeruginosa against novel anti-pseudomonal antibiotics and to modifiable risk factors that reduce the emergence of resistance to novel anti-pseudomonal antibiotics.
“In recent years we have been fortunate to have several novel antibiotics available against highly drug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections known to cause infections in chronically and critically-ill patients. Unfortunately, we are beginning to see resistance to these novel agents. I am hoping to be able to identify bacterial mutations that cause resistance to these much needed antibiotics and to identify modifiable risk factors to slow or even prevent the emergence of resistance so they continue to be effective treatment options for years to come,” said Tamma.
University of Maryland Researchers – College Park
Dr. Duncan’s research at University of Maryland – College Park, titled “A New Way to Monitor Mucus in Obstructive Lung Diseases,“ was given the Innovation Award and received $75,000 for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. Dr. Duncan’s research will study the use of nanotechnology in the design of a novel diagnostic tool to monitor physical changes in mucus associated with the progression of disease. This research may offer a new, highly valuable tool to analyze patients with obstructive lung disease and could potentially improve their outcomes.
Dr. Maisel’s research at University of Maryland – College Park, titled “Use of Immunotherapies for Treating LAM” was given the Dalsemer Research Grant and received $50,000 for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. Dr. Maisel’s research aims to study LAM cells on lymphatic functions, and therapeutic efficacy of immunotherapies used in combination with rapamycin, the only FDA-approved LAM treatment. This work will bring novel insights into effects of LAM on lymphatic functions and may provide new avenues for LAM treatments.
"Both Dr. Duncan and Dr. Maisel - and their research teams - are working at the cutting edge of pulmonary disease research to shed new light on why and how lung diseases progress." said John P. Fisher, chair of the University of Maryland's Fischell Department of Bioengineering. "Their efforts will help open the doors to tailored treatment options previously unavailable to patients of rare and, in many cases, aggressive pulmonary diseases. We, at the University of Maryland, are tremendously proud of the potential impact this work could have on countless lives affected by these diseases."
University of Maryland - Baltimore
Dr. Zafari’s research at the University of Maryland – Baltimore, titled “Which Interventions for COPD are Most Cost-Effective?” was given the Public Policy Award and received $50,000 for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. Dr. Zafari’s research aims to measure and compare health and economic benefits of a variety of different medical (including medications and pulmonary rehabilitation) and policy (including smoking cessation policies) interventions to see which of them would produce the highest value for society.
“Dr. Zafari’s study provides actionable policy-relevant research. While there are many articles in the scientific literature that document the burden of disease, patients and policy makers don’t want to simply document the problem; they want innovative solutions to solve the problem of escalating costs of diseases such as COPD. I commend Dr. Zafari for addressing the real-world needs of decision makers,” said C. Daniel Mullins, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy.
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 improve the lives of those living with a lung disease.
For more information about the American Lung Association research award recipients and projects, visit Lung.org/research-team. For media seeking an interview with a researcher or lung health expert, or researcher photo, contact Valerie Gleason at [email protected] or 717-971-1123.
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.