About Our Research

Medical breakthroughs pioneered by American Lung Association researchers have reduced the burden of lung disease on patients and their loved ones, allowing them to live healthier, more active lives.

More than a Century of Progress

For over a century, the American Lung Association has funded thousands of critical lung disease research projects. These projects include examining the cause and prevention of lung diseases like tuberculosis, asthma, COPD and lung cancer, as well as how to manage and eradicate lung disease. Advancements in medical and scientific research to move us closer to a world free of lung disease, through basic, translational and clinical research.

More than 4 in 10 Americans live with unhealthy air, and more than 33 million live with chronic lung diseases like asthma, COPD and lung cancer. In fact, lung disease is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. But research can—and doe— save lives.

For over a century, the American Lung Association has advanced medical and scientific research to move us closer to a world free of lung disease, through basic, translational and clinical research.

To put it simply, basic research is where all research begins to find new ideas, principles and theories that form the basis of scientific development that leads to exciting breakthroughs.

Translational research, also known as “bench – to- bedside” moves theory into medical practice and health outcomes.

Clinical research is then conducted to ensure that a new treatment, device, product or procedure is safe and successful.

It takes all of the pieces of this puzzle, working together to save lives through research. We’ve seen many successes, like our funded researcher Dr. Mary Ellen Avery who made a discovery in the lungs of babies with respiratory distress syndrome that saved an estimated 800,000 children over 50 years following her discovery and led her to win the national medal of science.

And when our Airways Clinical Research Centers discovered that the flu vaccine was safe for people with asthma, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed their recommendations so that all individuals receive the flu vaccine. This life-changing discovery is estimated to avoid 104,000 hospitalizations every year if everyone with asthma got the flu shot.

It takes all of us to work to save lives through research. Together we can watch as the number of lives saved continues to grow and we get one step closer to a world without lung disease.

Medical breakthroughs pioneered by American Lung Association researchers and their colleagues worldwide have reduced the burden of lung disease on patients and their loved ones, allowing them to live healthier, more active lives.

Since 1915, our researchers have made significant contributions to the fight against lung disease by revolutionizing treatment and unlocking secrets of the body's immune system. We have funded breakthroughs in the fight against tuberculosis, identified genes that cause the development of lung cancer and cystic fibrosis, and developed new ways to treat respiratory distress syndrome.

Building Blocks of Medical and Scientific Research

Basic Research

Basic research (often called Bench research) generates new ideas, principles, and theories, which form the building blocks to understanding and isolating the molecular, genetic, or physiological basis of disease.

Translational Research

Often termed "Bench to Bedside", these studies convert building blocks from basic research into potential new clinical treatments and interventions.

Clinical Research

These studies determine if a new treatment, like a new/different drug or diet or medical device is safe and effective in patients.

Meet Our Current Researchers

Our mission is sustained by the innovative lung disease research projects we fund each year. See the scientists poised to make breakthroughs that could improve prevention, detection and treatment of lung disease.

Research Partnerships

We fund innovative research that takes advantage of new technologies and scientific advancements. An important part of our mission is to collaborate with other lung health-focused organizations.
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Research Milestones

See significant impacts on lung health over the years from developing new techniques to diagnose lung disease to identifying a major oncogene in lung cancer.
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President's Research Report

Find out this year's highlights from our research program and read more about the pioneering work of our researchers.
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Research News

Recent published research, studies, reports and editorials by American Lung Association Research Team.
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Advancing Research

Our annual publication illustrates how lung disease research is helping improve lives and making a difference for all those who have been touched by lung disease.

COVID-19 Action Initiative

$25M initiative will expand our respiratory virus research program, enhance key public health measures through education and advocacy, and establish an advanced network to stop future respiratory virus pandemics.
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Important Research Findings

The results of clinical trials from our Airways Clinical Research Centers Network are changing the nature of asthma and COPD patient care across the United States. See important findings from our studies that impact you.
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Funding & Impact

115+ Years of research funding
$198M+ Invested in research since 2000
1700+ Projects funded

Page last updated: July 22, 2022

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