Two Northwestern Researchers Awarded $250K in American Lung Association Grants to Study Lung Diseases

Two Northwestern Researchers Awarded $250K in American Lung Association Grants to Study Lung Diseases

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 Illinois. Chitaru Kurihara, MD from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine was awarded the Catalyst Award and SeungHye Han, MD, MPH from Northwestern University’s Chicago Campus was awarded the Innovation Award.

Dr. Kurihara receives $50,000 with his award which is renewable for an additional year for a total of $100,000; and Dr. Han receives $75,000 with her award which is also renewable for another year, totaling $150,000.


Lung research is critical because 1,407,000 Illinoisans 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. Chitaru Kurihara and Dr. SeungHye Han to the elite American Lung Association Research Institute and our efforts to fundamentally transform lung health here in Illinois and across the nation,” said Danielle Trojanek, 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. Kurihara’s project aims to determine if drugs can reduce the risk of a lung transplant patient’s risk of developing early chronic lung allograft dysfunction (CLAD), where the immune system attacks the airways of the lungs. His research will focus on whether specific drugs can reduce the risk of CLAD by reducing precluding normal repair in the lung. “I would like to thank the American Lung Association for their support of our research to investigate the link between primary graft dysfunction (PGD) and chronic lung allograft dysfunction (CLAD)," said Dr. Kurihara. "While lung transplantation is a life-saving treatment for a variety of end-stage lung diseases, long-term outcomes of patients undergoing this intervention are limited due to the development of CLAD. This work will determine whether drugs, that we have shown reduce the risk of PGD, can reduce the risk of CLAD.”

Dr. Han’s project will study in detail how lung cells behave with and without proper mitochondrial functioning. Her research will see if using a molecule to target mitochondrial dysfunction will improve a patient’s lung fibrosis and possibly be a therapy to treat it. “I am grateful to the American Lung Association for supporting my research on mitochondrial dysfunction and lung fibrosis. This grant will allow me to investigate whether and how mitochondrial dysfunction, which is commonly observed in patients with lung fibrosis, contributes to the development and progression of lung fibrosis," said Dr. Han. "Lung fibrosis affects an increasing number of people worldwide but has limited treatment options. I hope to shed light on the pathogenesis and progression of this devastating disease and identify novel therapeutic targets."   

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


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For more information, contact:

Janye Killelea
[email protected]

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