New York City-Based Researchers Awarded 3 Lung Association Grants Totaling $250,000 to Understand the Causes of Lung Diseases and Gain Insights to New Treatments

Recipients belong to cohort of researchers receiving a total $12.6 million in research funding from the American Lung Association

As new and pressing lung health challenges emerge with the COVID-19 pandemic to climate change and youth e-cigarette use, researchers have been at the forefront of scientific breakthroughs. Here in the New York City metro area, three distinguished scientists are being awarded research grants to help change how lung diseases, including COVID-19 and lung cancer, impact people’s lives.

“These researchers are part of an elite team that join the Lung Association’s mission to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. Nearly 37 million Americans live with lung disease, and as we face new challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic, lung health research is more important than ever,” said Erica Masin, executive director for the American Lung Association in the New York metro area. “We are proud to have these researchers on our team to help us realize our vision of a world free of lung disease.”

The Lung Association announced that it increased its research funding to award $12.6 million for over 100 research grants. The funded projects address a wide range of lung health topics, including COVID-19 in children, the public health impacts of e-cigarette policy and lung cancer in never smokers.

In the New York metro area, grants went to researchers including:  

  • William Zhengyang Zhang, M.D., Joan & Sanford I. Weill Medical College of Cornell University, will complete a study that may lead to the development of novel COPD treatments. Dr. Zhang said, "This Award from the American Lung Association will be instrumental to my continued career development as a young physician-scientist working in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)."
  • Robert M Samstein, M.D., Ph.D., Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai will study the functional role of B cells in Non-small cell lung cancer and with immunotherapy.  Dr. Samstein said, “I am deeply honored to have been selected for this prestigious award amongst such an amazing group of colleagues. This award will open up a new direction for my laboratory in an underexplored area, offering insights into how we can better design personalized immune-directed treatments for our lung cancer patients."
  • Alison M. Taylor, Ph.D., Columbia University Medical Center will aim to understand how errors in chromosome number contribute to lung cancer. These findings will be critical for designing new cancer treatments. Dr. Taylor said "As a junior PI, funding from the American Lung Association is critical for establishing my lab's lung-specific research program and supporting lab members to enter the field of lung cancer biology."  

Research projects funded by the Lung Association are carefully selected through a rigorous review committee and represent the investigation of a wide range of complex issues to help reduce the burden of lung disease. Awards are 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.

In total, $12.6 million was awarded to more than 100 grants, including seven new COVID-19 research grants. Meet the full Lung Association research team, including current awardees and their full abstracts at

To schedule a media interview with a Lung Association researcher or lung health expert, contact Jen Solomon at 516-680-8927 or [email protected] 

For more information, contact:

Jennifer Solomon
(516) 680-8927
[email protected]

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