WILLISTON, VT | November 11, 2020
With more than eight million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States and an ongoing surge this fall, the American Lung Association is funding promising research through its COVID-19 Action Initiative to accelerate the search for COVID-19 solutions. Joining the American Lung Association’s research team is University of Vermont (UVM) Professor of Medicine Daniel Weiss, M.D., Ph.D.
Dr. Weiss joins 11 other awardees for the inaugural COVID-19 and Respiratory Virus Research Award, who are funded at $100,000 a year for two years. This award explores important avenues to find better treatments to reduce the burden we have experienced due this virus.
Specifically, Weiss is examining how the virus damages the epithelial cells lining the lungs. This is a significant issue particularly for those patients who develop severe disease and require admission to intensive care units and need mechanical ventilation. Weiss’s collaborators on the study include Markus Thali, Ph.D., UVM professor of microbiology and molecular genetics, and colleagues at Boston University
“It is critical that we understand exactly how the virus damages the lung,” said Weiss. “We hope this work will open doors to new potential therapeutic approaches.”
“The Vermont Lung Center’s investigators are grateful to the American Lung Association for supporting Dr. Weiss and this critical area of research, which will provide important new information to help us combat the devastating lung disease caused by COVID-19,” said Anne Dixon, M.A., B.M., B.Ch., director of the Vermont Lung Center and professor of medicine at UVM’s Larner College of Medicine.
These new research efforts are made possible through the American Lung Association’s COVID-19 Action Initiative, a $25 million investment in research, education, advocacy and coalition building over the next three years with an aim to end COVID-19 and defend against future respiratory viruses. The COVID-19 Action Initiative will be used to provide free lung health education to those in need, protect public health by advocating for COVID-19 and flu vaccines in underserved communities of color and prevent future outbreaks by investing in respiratory virus research.
“For more than a century, the American Lung Association has served as the nation’s champion of lung health, and today we’re pleased to fund promising COVID-19 research from the nation’s leading scientific minds,” said American Lung Association Division Director for Health Promotions Amber Pelletier. “We’re pleased to have Dr. Weiss join our research team through the COVID-19 Action Initiative to seek bold new approaches to treatment in our shared goal to save more lives.”
Since the launch of the COVID-19 Action Initiative, the organization announced a new research award and placed an urgent call for applications for the most promising research studies on COVID-19, and immediately expanded an existing research clinical trial to include COVID-19 research. The American Lung Association’s Airways Clinical Research Centers network (ACRC) is the nation’s largest network of nonprofit clinical trials focusing on asthma and COPD, and now – COVID-19.
“By funding the most promising research and leveraging our existing ACRC network, we were able to nimbly implement new and promising research to support the lung health of Americans during this pandemic,” said Pelletier.
For more information about the COVID-19 Action Initiative or the American Lung Association’s COVID-19 research award recipients and projects, visit Lung.org/covid19-award. For media seeking an interview with a COVID-19 researcher or lung health expert, contact Jennifer Solomon at 516-680-8927 or [email protected]
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, 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: Lung.org.
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