KSU Researcher Awarded $200K American Lung Association Grant to Study Viral Pneumonia

The American Lung Association Research Institute has awarded $13.6 million in research grants to fund 129 innovative projects to advance science to end lung disease, including a project from Kansas. Pankaj Baral, Ph.D. from Kansas State University was awarded the COVID-19 Respiratory Virus Research Award. For the next two years he will receive $100,000 under the award for a grant total of $200,000.

Lung research is critical because 374,000 Kansans are living with 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 infectious lung diseases and more.

“We are honored to welcome Dr. Pankaj Baral to the elite American Lung Association Research Institute and our efforts to fundamentally transform lung health here in Kansas & Greater Kansas City and across the nation,” said Linda Crider, executive director at the Lung Association. “Our research investment is 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. Because when you can’t breathe, nothing else matters.”

Dr. Baral’s project will investigate how the signaling of sympathetic neurons to immune cells can regulate inflammation and infection outcomes during viral pneumonia. The findings could pave the way for new therapy strategies for fatal pneumonia, acute lung injury, acute respiratory distress syndrome, influenza A and COVID-19. “I would like to thank the American Lung Association for supporting our research to understand how neuroimmune interactions influence the lung immune response to influenza A infection,” said Dr. Baral. “Utilizing the interdisciplinary approaches involving neuroscience, immunology and murine pneumonia model, this work helps identify the approaches that directly target the nervous system, or associated molecular receptors, to develop alternative host-based strategies to treat viral pneumonia.”

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 investigate a wide range of complex issues.


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.

Media Resources

Get involved and help the American Lung Association’s mission. The Fight For Air Climb in Kansas City is coming up this spring on March 3. Learn more at FightForAirClimb.org/KansasCity.

For more information, contact:

Janye Killelea
[email protected]

Asthma Basics Workshop - National
, | Mar 20, 2024
Asthma Basics Workshop - National
, | Apr 17, 2024