American Lung Association Announces New Support for Landmark Lung Health Cohort Study

First-of-its-kind lung health study to understand environmental and genetic factors, biomarkers that lead to the development of lung disease, with goal to ultimately intercept lung disease

Today, new support is being announced for the landmark American Lung Association Lung Health Cohort, the first federally-funded, community-based cohort study of millennials in the nation. Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc., is funding a supplement to this study, which aims to determine factors - whether biomarkers, environmental or genetic - that contribute toward lung disease development in hopes of preventing it altogether.

Led by Northwestern Medicine scientists, in partnership with the American Lung Association, the Lung Health Cohort is a pioneering nationwide study that will track 4,000 young adults at the age of peak lung health, between the ages of 25 and 35. Scientists will follow these individuals for approximately five years after their initial interviews to evaluate how their environment, lifestyle and physical activity habits affect their respiratory health.

“The Lung Health Cohort is an ambitious effort to discover what biomarkers as well as genetic and environmental factors lead to the development of lung disease, so we might ultimately prevent the disease,” said American Lung Association President and CEO Harold Wimmer. “Support from partners like Boehringer Ingelheim is critical to ensure we can advance our work and uncover how we might stop the development of asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pulmonary fibrosis, lung cancer and other lung diseases to potentially help save more lives.”

The longitudinal study is made possible through a $24.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. The goal is to renew the grant so the scientists can continue to follow the study participants for the rest of their lives. The new support of $1 million from Boehringer Ingelheim will provide supplemental resources to support aspects such as cohort recruitment and retention, site specific infrastructure and home spirometry (lung function testing) to track changes in lung health.

“This study represents a paradigm shift toward improving lung health rather than always reacting to lung disease,” said principal investigator Dr. Ravi Kalhan, professor of medicine and preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a Northwestern Medicine pulmonologist. “We want to come up with a framework to intercept chronic lung disease before it becomes a problem. Just as primary care doctors can prevent heart attacks by proactively checking patients’ cholesterol levels, we hope this study helps us find the equivalent of ‘cholesterol’ for the lung so that we may react to prevent the disease.”

Recruitment efforts will begin later this year at 37 recruitment sites across the country led by many of the best lung disease researchers at top institutions. The scientists will leverage the national infrastructure of the American Lung Association’s Airways Clinical Research Centers, the largest national non-profit clinical network dedicated to asthma and COPD research.
“This landmark study has the potential to improve the health and lives of millions of Americans,” said Craig S. Conoscenti, M.D., FCCP, ATSF, Executive Director/Therapeutic Area Head, Respiratory IPF/ILD, Clinical Development and Medical Affairs, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. “We’re proud to support this groundbreaking work to uncover the development of respiratory disease, a pivotal step forward for the lung health and lives of all Americans.”

To learn more about the American Lung Association Lung Health Cohort or to speak with a lung health expert or the principal investigator, contact Elizabeth Cook at [email protected] or 312-801-7631.

For more information, contact:

Elizabeth Cook
[email protected]

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