Research MilestonesPeople from every walk of life are living healthier, more active lives—thanks to the medical breakthroughs pioneered by American Lung Association researchers and their colleagues worldwide.
Since 1915, our researchers have achieved major milestones in the fight against lung disease by revolutionizing treatment and unlocking secrets of the body's immune system. Premature babies now are less likely to die from respiratory distress syndrome; tuberculosis (TB) rates are at an all-time low; and young and old with chronic lung diseases—including asthma and COPD—are able to breathe easier.
Some of our contributions to research include:
1915-1920 - Establishing framework to fund lung disease research
In 1915 the Committee on Research was established to build the financial framework for the National Tuberculosis Association (later the American Lung Association) to support medical research. In 1921, we begin funding lung disease research.
1950 - Finding medication that prevents complications and spread of TB
Dr. Edith Lincoln, a grantee, observed that isoniazid, the primary medication against TB, prevented the development of serious complications in children. Later Public Health Service trials underscored isoniazid's important ability to prevent the spread of infection when given to household members of tuberculosis patients.
2001 - Discovering the flu vaccine is safe for people with asthma
The ACRC released the results of its first study, the Study of Inactivated Influenza Vaccine in Asthmatics, published in the New England Journal of Medicine. This study found that influenza vaccines are safe for both children and adults with asthma. Based on these findings, the CDC now recommends flu shots for children with asthma. Administering the flu vaccine to people with asthma has the potential to significantly reduce hospitalizations and increase cost savings.
2009 - Discovering heartburn medication does not improve asthma in children and adults with no symptoms of acid reflux
The Study of Acid Reflux and Asthma (SARA) examined the potential connection between asthma and gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), and whether GERD treatments decreased asthma flare-ups. The results showed that the longstanding practice of prescribing heartburn medication was ineffective and expensive for some asthma patients who do not exhibit heartburn or stomach pain, which translates to roughly 1.5 million asthma patients taking expensive medication unnecessarily.
2016 - Developing new awards to help defeat lung cancer
The LUNG FORCE Research Innovation Project: Lung Cancer in Women Award, which aims to identify potential gender differences for lung cancer risk factors, is first awarded. The first Momentum Research Award: Defeating Lung Cancer in Women is awarded, in partnership with the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation.
2019 - Expanding the landscape to fund researchers at different career levels
The Lung Association launched new awards within our awards and grants program. These new awards were intended to expand the landscape of the career levels the Lung Association supports, in the hopes of providing funding for investigators looking for awards beyond mentored level grants.
2020 - Searching for COVID-19 solutions
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Lung Association launched the COVID-19 Action Initiative, which included research applications to include specific questions related to the treatment, detection and care of COVID-19 and other emerging respiratory infections.
2022 - Discovering blood pressure medication does not slow progression of COPD
Results of the ACRC and Pulmonary Trials Cooperative. Clinical Trial of Losartan for Pulmonary Emphysema: Pulmonary Trials Cooperative LEEP Trial were published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. The study found that Losartan did not prevent emphysema progression in people with COPD.