President's Research Report: What You Make Possible

A Message from the President

There’s nothing more important to good health, and even life itself, than healthy lungs. People with lung disease and their caregivers know this all too well. As America’s trusted champion for lung health, no one is working harder to find new ways to prevent, treat and cure lung disease than the American Lung Association. Funding cutting-edge medical research is crucial, and with your support, we have stepped up to meet this challenge. 

We are fortunate to live in one of the greatest times ever for medical breakthroughs made possible by research. In the past 5 years alone, 33 new treatments for lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer-related death, have been approved. This is life-changing news for millions in the U.S. Now is the time to ride this wave of discovery and do even more. 

Now celebrating our 120th year, the Lung Association has been a trailblazer in lung disease research. In this report, you’ll learn more about how our bold and wide-ranging research program is tackling today’s most important lung health issues: COVID-19, asthma, COPD, lung cancer, RSV and hazards to your lungs like tobacco use and air pollution. 

In March 2023, we launched the American Lung Association Research Institute which will fund high-impact, lifesaving research and bring together the best scientific minds to address critical lung health challenges. The Research Institute will increase our annual lung disease research investment to $25 million by 2030, expand partnerships with government and industry collaborators and empower promising scientists to accelerate discovery and innovation. 

In 2023-2024, we are funding 129 promising research projects, with a total investment of $13.6 million. Notable projects include a study to learn how to protect the health of children with asthma while at school, research to see if we can train the immune system to eliminate lung cancer cells, and a study to learn why new coronaviral variants affect different parts of the respiratory system. 

Through it all, our most important partner is you. Thank you for your support, and for trusting us to use your donation wisely, for the maximum benefit of lung disease patients and their loved ones. You can take pride in the fact that your generosity has played an indispensable role in saving lives now and in the future. 

With deepest gratitude, 

—Harold P. Wimmer, National President & CEO, American Lung Association

Harold P. Wimmer

Together, We Can Ensure This Work Continues

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Introducing the American Lung Association Research Institute

More than 34 million people in America live with lung disease. When combined with lung cancer and respiratory diseases like COVID-19 and influenza, lung disease is the number one cause of death by disease in America. 

To address this critical health challenge, the American Lung Association Research Institute was launched in March of 2023 to increase lung disease research investment to $25 million, expand industry collaboration and empower promising scientists to accelerate discovery and innovation. 

Why is this important? 

We fund research on a broad range of lung diseases to provide solutions, treatments and cures for people suffering from lung disease. We empower promising scientists to accelerate discovery and innovation through convening experts, funding research and sharing knowledge across the field of lung health. 

The Research Institute will:

Increase Research Investment through our Awards and Grants program to $25 million per year by 2030, funding cutting-edge studies across all lung diseases. 

Expand clinical research to broaden the scope of lung diseases studied in addition to our nationwide Airways Clinical Research Centers, focusing on clinical trials to improve patient care and outcomes. 

Collaborate with government, non-profits and industry partners through our Accelerator Program, which invests in mid- to late-stage research to accelerate development and commercialization of medical devices, therapeutics and diagnostics. 

Convene Science Forums to discuss important topics in lung health, publish white papers, and foster collaborations to bring together the top minds in lung disease research to investigate pressing issues that threaten lung health. 

For more information about the American Lung Association Research Institute, visit Lung.org/research.


ACRC Study Reaches Historic Milestone

The American Lung Association Lung Health Cohort Study Recruits its 1400th Participant

For decades, the clinical community has defined lung health as the absence of disease, that is, the lungs of patients are assumed to be healthy until they present with respiratory symptoms like cough, shortness of breath or wheezing. However, by the time their test results show some abnormalities, it might be too late to intervene. 

The American Lung Association Lung Health Cohort study focuses on young adults aged 25-35, tracking them for five years to explore how their environment, lifestyle choices and physical activity habits influence their long-term respiratory well-being. The study recently reached a significant milestone of 1,400 millennials recruited, well on the way to the target 4,000 required for the study. 

Dr. Ravi Kalhan, the Lung Health Cohort Principal Investigator at Northwestern Medicine, emphasizes the study’s significance: “Our goal is for this study to fundamentally change the burden of lung health in the U.S. By looking at the lung health of millennials and tracking them for many years, we hope to learn more about how our environment and behaviors impact lung health.”


Your Support Continues the Research Life Cycle

Every dollar empowers the brightest scientists to make a breakthrough impact in lung disease research.

Aparna Sundaram, MD

Amanda Wilson, PhD

University of Arizona

Catalyst Award

Children who suffer from asthma are at greater risk of respiratory viral infections in schools, such as influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and COVID-19. However, school health personnel need more support in developing and interpreting guidance on how to reduce viral transmission in classrooms.

Dr. Wilson’s group is developing a new risk analysis tool that helps people working in school health to support real-time and inexpensive decision making in order to reduce or stop virus spread in schools across the US.

This new decision-making tool will make it easier for school personnel to protect the most vulnerable children in school, which will lead to better health outcomes and fewer missed school days.

Alexandra C. Racanelli, MD, PhD

Lucas Ferrari de Andrade, PhD

Icahn School of Medicine Mount Sinai

Lung Cancer Discovery Award

The immune system plays a pivotal role in the elimination of tumor cells, and can be harnessed for the development of immunotherapies, which train the immune system to recognize and destroy tumor cells. However, many patients with lung cancer are either resistant, or develop resistance, to the current immunotherapies available.

Dr. Ferrari de Andrade’s lab is developing new methods to create antibodies which can tag tumor cells to be destroyed by the immune system and test it in combination with standard lung cancer treatments.

These studies will help researchers and clinicians understand how to better harness the immune system to inhibit lung cancer, leading to new treatments for patients.

Mohsan Saeed, PHD

Mohsan Saeed, PhD

Boston University

COVID-19 and Emerging Respiratory Viruses Research Award

While some coronaviruses infect lung cells, others infect the upper respiratory tract, affecting the outcome of infections, viral transmission to others, and ultimately disease management. But the mechanisms underlying the preference of virus variants for particular cell types are unknown.

Dr. Saeed’s study was one of the first to show that the Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus gravitates to the upper respiratory tract. The new study will examine how and why this happens from a molecular basis.

The concepts generated in these studies can be applied to future SARS-CoV-2 variants and other coronaviruses.



Your gift supports lifesaving research

Please donate today so this vital research can continue. Together, we can create a world free of lung disease.

Page last updated: February 28, 2024

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