Two OSU Researchers Awarded $250K in American Lung Association Grants to Study Lung Cancer and Influenza

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 two projects from Ohio. MuChun Tsai, MD from The Ohio State University Office of Sponsored Programs was awarded the Catalyst Award and Dan Spakowicz, Ph.D. from The Ohio State University was awarded the Innovation Award.

Dr. Tsai receives 50,000 with her award which is renewable for an additional year for a total of $100,000; and Dr. Spakowicz will receive $75,000 for two years under his award for a total of $150,000.


Lung research is critical because 1,595,000 Buckeyes 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. MuChun Tsai and Dr. Dan Spakowicz to the elite American Lung Association Research Institute and our efforts to fundamentally transform lung health here in Ohio and across the nation,” said Brittany Sinzinger, 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. Tsai’s project aims to determine how flu decreases a protein involved in immune response called MARCH10. Researchers will investigate what effect MARCH10 has on cilia function during flu infection, plus identify cilia proteins that bind to MARCH10 and if overexpressing or depleting them will alter cilia function or the flu infection. “Influenza virus infects cells of the airway and can cause acute lung injury and impair mucociliary clearance of the virus. Unfortunately, individuals with chronic lung disorders, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, have a higher risk of developing complications from influenza virus infection,” said Dr. Tsai. “I'm excited to work with the American Lung Association to look for new mechanisms by which influenza virus alters ciliary function in lung cells and hopefully help with the design of new therapeutic drugs to combat influenza virus infection in the future.”

Dr. Spakowicz’s project will look at how gut and lung tumor microbiomes affect combination therapies that target a cell chemical called adenosine which enables tumor cells to escape immune surveillance. The research will provide insight into adenosine signaling and immune checkpoints; and may lead to improved treatment for lung cancer patients. "I am thrilled to have support from the American Lung Association. As we bring new drugs to patients to fight lung cancer, we increasingly appreciate different features affecting how tumors respond, including the patients' microbiomes,” said Dr. Spakowicz. “This support will help us explore a promising drug in phase 1 clinical trials and how it interacts with microbes that make molecules in the same pathways. We hope that by understanding -- and controlling-- the microbes, we'll be able to improve patient outcomes."

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

For more information about the new grant awardees and the entire American Lung Association Research Team, visit

Media Resources

Get involved and help the American Lung Association’s mission. The Fight For Air Climb in Columbus is coming up this spring on February 24. Learn more at FightForAirClimbColumbus.

For more information, contact:

Janye Killelea
[email protected]

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