Philadelphia Researcher Awarded $50,000 American Lung Association Grant to Study Basic Biological Mechanisms of Asthma

Lung health research is more important than ever. Never have we faced so many challenges to our lung health, including COVID-19, vaping and smoke from increased wildfires. Today, the American Lung Association in Pennsylvania announced that Megumi Shigematsu, PhD, from Thomas Jefferson University and resident of Philadelphia, was awarded a $50,000 Catalyst Award.

With millions of Americans living with asthma, there is still an unmet need for effective anti-asthma medications.  Shigematsu’s “Hidden Short RNAs as Novel Inflammatory Mediators in Asthma” project aims to discover next-generation therapies that inhibit airway remodeling at early stages of asthma. 

“Here in Pennsylvania, we face lung health challenges every day with more than 1,878,000 people in our state living with chronic lung disease,” said Caroline Hutchinson, Executive Director at the Lung Association. “We are excited for Megumi Shigematsu to join the American Lung Association Research Team to help improve lung health here in Pennsylvania and across the nation.” 

“I have been studying RNA molecules throughout my career, and recently entered asthma research when I discovered that levels of some short RNAs are highly increased in asthmatic lungs. As an RNA biologist, I am learning every day that asthma is a very complex disease. My research will provide new insights into the molecular mechanisms of the disease especially in its early stages, and I believe that this will further open a path to the discovery of novel therapeutics,” said Dr. Shigematsu.

In the 2022-2023 grants cycle, the Lung Association is funding $13.2 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. Awards were 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. 

The Lung Association’s Nationwide Research Program includes the Awards and Grants Program, and also our 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 American Lung Association Research Team, visit

For more information, contact:

Valerie Gleason
[email protected]

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