Albuquerque Researcher Awarded American Lung Association Grant to Study Influenza Cells

Today, the American Lung Association Research Institute announced it awarded $13.6 million in research grants to fund 129 innovative projects to advance today’s science to end lung disease tomorrow, including a project in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Dr. Steven Baker from Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute was awarded the COVID-19 Respiratory Virus Research Award to study influenza cells to understand how to best approach upcoming variants of the virus.  

Lung research is critical because 264,000 in New Mexico 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. Steven Baker to the elite American Lung Association Research Institute and our efforts to fundamentally transform lung health here in New Mexico and across the nation,” said Victoria Byrd, Development Director and Market Lead for the American Lung Association in New Mexico. “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. Baker’s team at Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute will research how single genes split and cause multiple influenza variants with varying symptoms. Understanding the cells within influenza will allow for a deeper understanding of how to approach new variants and mitigate epidemics.

“Re-emerging respiratory RNA viruses continue to shape global public health by causing seasonal epidemics and occasional pandemics. Our project with the ALA aims to comprehend how influenza viral infection is impacted by host alternative RNA splicing, a process that nearly all genes undergo during their activation,” said Dr. Baker. “Understanding such hidden mechanisms within host genomes deployed that either fight or benefit viral infection can inform future therapeutic development.”

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 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
•    Media b-roll is available here: Broll: ALA Research Team.mp4 | Powered by Box
•    American Lung Association logos and other media resources are available at Lung.org/media

For more information, contact:

Katie Geraghty
310-359-6386
[email protected]

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