Georgia Tech Researcher Awarded American Lung Association Grant to Study Lung Health

Lung health research is more important than ever. Never have we faced so many challenges to our lung health, including COVID-19, vaping and smoke from increased wildfires. Today, the American Lung Association in Georgia announced that distinguished researcher Ahmet Coskun, Ph.D. from the Georgia Tech Research Corporation will receive an Innovation Award.

Coskun’s project aims to decipher single cell immunometabolism (known as biochemicals controlling an immune cell’s function) of T-Cell differentiation (defined as a biological process involving specialization of cell subtypes over time) in lung tumor organoids on a chip, a mini-organ technology mimicking lung physiology outside the human body.

“Lung cancer is the primary cause of cancer death in the U.S. and current chemotherapies fail in the majority of patients,” shares Coskun. “Recent advances in immunotherapies show great promise in lung cancers. Subsets of immune T cells show a strong correlation to the cancer prognosis and survival rates of certain cancer patients. But how these cells work in lung cancer is still unknown.”

Coskun’s team will provide a single cell metabolic imaging technology to simultaneously visualize multiple cellular subtypes for deciphering how immune cells specialize in response to cancer cells in a lung cancer model on a dish. Modeling chemical distributions of immune cells near cancer cells will reveal the immune capacity for the elimination of cancer cells. “This research will shed light on future immune-targeting drug designs to achieve higher response rates to immunotherapies for lung cancer patients, potentially extending the healthy living and lifespan of lung cancer patients significantly,” said Coskun.

“In a nutshell, our research will produce a chemical cartography of lung architecture that is uniquely altered in cancers and other lung diseases. In addition, decoding the metabolic landscape of immune cells will help innovate synergistic approaches to eliminate tumors using the patient’s immune system boosted by relatively simple chemical and dietary supplements,” said Coskun.

“Here in Georgia, we face lung health challenges every day like higher smoking/vaping rates, high lung cancer/COPD rates, natural disasters, etc. In addition, more than 1.3 million people in our state are living with chronic lung disease,” said Michele Howell, executive director at the Lung Association in Georgia. “We are excited for Dr. Coskun to join the American Lung Association Research Team to help improve lung health here in Georgia and across the nation.”

In the 2022-2023 grants cycle, the Lung Association is funding $13.2 million for more than 130 lung health research grants. For this round of funding, the organization placed a greater focus on strategic partnerships with key organizations like American Thoracic Society and CHEST, and grants that focus on equity like the Harold Amos Scholar.

Research projects funded by the Lung Association are carefully selected through rigorous scientific review and awardees represent the investigation of a wide range of complex issues. Awards were given in eight different categories; 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, Lung Cancer Discovery Award, and Public Policy Research Award.

The Lung Association’s Nationwide Research Program includes the Awards and Grants Program, and also our Airways Clinical Research Network, the nation's largest not-for-profit network of clinical research centers dedicated to asthma and COPD treatment research.

For more information about the new grant awardees and the entire American Lung Association Research Team, visit Lung.org/research-team.

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For more information, contact:

Jill Smith
704-818-4138
[email protected]

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