Minneapolis Researcher Awarded Grant to Study Impacts of Wildfire Smoke on Asthma, COPD

American Lung Association’s funding provided at critical time for research

With COVID-19, vaping and smoke from increased wildfires, lung health research has never been more important. Today, the American Lung Association in Minnesota announced that Sarah Lacher, PhD, from the Board of Regents – University of Minnesota Twin Cities, was bestowed the Catalyst Award to study the impacts of wildfire smoke on lung diseases like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

“Here in Minnesota, we face lung health challenges like wildfire smoke and high smoking, COPD and asthma rates. In addition, 566,000 people in our state are living with chronic lung disease,” said Jill Heins-Nesvold, National Senior Director of Health Systems Improvement and Indoor Air Quality at the Lung Association in Minnesota. “We are excited for Dr. Lacher to join the American Lung Association Research Team to help improve lung health here in Minnesota and across the nation.” 

Due to climate change, wildfire smoke is impacting human health to a greater degree with each passing year. Wildfire smoke worsens diseases like asthma and COPD and leads to increased lung or heart disease-related deaths. Currently, the molecular mechanisms that drive wildfire smoke-induced disease are not yet understood. Dr. Lacher’s project aims to lead to the development of strategies to protect people from being increasingly impacted by exposure to wildfire smoke.

In the 2022-2023 grants cycle, the Lung Association is funding $13.1 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.  

The Lung Association’s Nationwide Research Program includes the Awards and Grants Program, and the 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 Lung Association Research Team, visit Lung.org/research-team.

Media Resources

For more information, contact:

James A. Martinez
(312) 445-2501
[email protected]

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