American Lung Association Funds New Research on Transplant Patient Response to COVID Vaccination

Trailblazing study on transplant recipient response to vaccination seeks to track if patients are fully protected from virus

The American Lung Association is working to end the COVID-19 pandemic and encouraging widespread adoption of vaccination. To help ensure vaccination benefit across all populations, the American Lung Association has funded a new research study to examine the efficacy of COVID vaccination for transplant recipients.

The new study, “Immune response of lung transplant recipients to SARS-CoV-2 vaccination,” is led by a team of investigators from Harvard and Massachusetts General. Marcia B. Goldberg, M.D., whose husband is a heart transplant recipient, pursued the study with her colleagues Jacob Lemieux, M.D., Ph.D., and Amy Li, M.D., Ph.D., after noting that the current vaccination trials did not assess the efficacy of COVID vaccination for transplant recipients.

According to Dr. Goldberg, due to powerful anti-rejection treatment, transplant recipients have a suppressed immune system which serves to reduce the likelihood for rejection of the transplanted organ.

“Whereas vaccinations are safe for transplant recipients – whether flu, COVID, or other vaccinations – there has not yet been any research on the immune response of vaccination in these individuals. As a result, it is not yet known how effective vaccinations are in protecting their health, even for annual flu vaccinations,” Dr. Goldberg explained. “So, our study will seek to determine how a transplant patient will respond to vaccination, and if a booster is needed for example, so that these patients may also benefit from vaccination and be able to safely return to daily activities.”

Data from the small study of up to 50 individuals are expected in the coming months, followed by publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

Every year, the American Lung Association funds promising lung disease research. Amid the pandemic, the organization has expanded its portfolio with COVID-related research through its COVID-19 Action Initiative. As the nation’s longest standing public health organization, the Lung Association funded $2.4 million in lung disease research during fiscal year 2020, including 12 grants focused to COVID-19 research.

“We want everyone to benefit from research, and moving research from the lab to the patient’s bedside is especially critical during a pandemic,” said American Lung Association President and CEO Harold Wimmer. “We are proud to fund important research studies that will save lives and improve lung health, and eagerly await the findings of this trailblazing study, and what it might mean for transplant patients everywhere.”

“Given the urgency of the pandemic, it was critical to move swiftly to learn more about how vaccination impacts their health,” Dr. Goldberg said. “We are absolutely thrilled to have the support of the American Lung Association. We took on this project without any funding at all, and with the quick and early funding support from the Lung Association we are able buy supplies for the actual analysis, enabling us to move swiftly with the hope that transplant recipients may safely benefit from vaccination.”

To learn more about the Lung Association’s research portfolio and how to contribute to their research efforts and COVID-19 Action Initiative, visit

For journalists seeking an interview with Dr. Goldberg or lung health experts, contact Allison MacMunn at [email protected] or 312-801-7628.

For more information, contact:

Allison MacMunn
[email protected]

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