American Lung Association Invests $13.1 Million in New Research to Address Emerging Lung Health Challenges

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Organization funds more than 130 promising research grants in lung cancer, asthma, COVID-19 and more

CHICAGO, October 12, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — 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 increasing wildfires. To find solutions to alleviate the burden of lung disease, the American Lung Association today announced research grants and is now funding more than 100 innovative projects. Funded projects address a wide range of lung health topics, including asthma, COPD, lung cancer, COVID-19 and more.

American Lung Association logo (PRNewsfoto/American Lung Association)

For its 2022-2023 funding cycle, The Lung Association funded $13.1 million for more than 130 lung health research grants. Through the Awards and Grants Program, The Lung Association supports pioneering research, innovative ideas and innovative approaches. For this round of funding, The Lung Association has increased its focus on strategic partnerships with key organizations like the American Thoracic Society and CHEST, and equity-focused grants like the Harold Amos Fellow.

“More than 34 million Americans live with lung disease, including asthma, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). On top of that, we’re seeing emerging threats to lung health that we never seen before. That’s why the American Lung Association invests in the best scientific minds to find better ways to reduce the burden of lung disease and to study the long-term impacts of lung health issues like vaping, climate change and COVID-19,” said Harold Wimmer, president and CEO of the American Lung Association. “We are honored to welcome our 2023 research team and empower them to help us prevent lung disease and improve the lives of people living with lung disease for years to come.”

The research projects funded by The Lung Association are carefully selected through rigorous scientific review and the winners represent the study of a wide range of complex questions. Prizes were awarded 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.

Here are some of the recent scholarship recipients:

  • Lung Cancer Discovery Award Introduced to Moumita GhoshPhD, from University of Colorado Denver for his lung cancer study titled “Deconstructing and Reconstructing the Impact of the Immune Microenvironment”. When it comes to the treatment of lung cancer, early detection is critical to the success of lung cancer treatments. A potential marker that signals early lung cancer could be changes in progenitor cells, which are a type of stem cells essential for tissue repair and maintaining a healthy lung. Dr. Ghosh’s lab found that these cells are altered in people with lung cancer, coinciding with an increased level of immune cells. Their study will focus on epithelial progenitor cells and how their function is affected by their location relative to a tumor, as well as the presence of immune cells. This investigation could lead to new methods for early detection of lung cancer and also new targets for improving progenitor function and slowing or stopping cancer formation.

  • Innovation Prize awarded to Aparna Sundaramdoctor, from University of California, San Francisco, for his project entitled “Mechanisms of Cadherin-11 Modulation of Force Transmission in Asthma”. Dr. Sundaram’s group showed that individual airway smooth muscle cells are attached to surrounding airways by attaching proteins, like an anchor. This study will examine the role of a binding protein called cadherin-11 in coordinating neighboring smooth muscle cells to contract, and how an allergic environment can influence this action. Understanding the structure of the airways and how smooth muscle anchors to the airways could lead to new therapies that can block this action and thus prevent the narrowing of the airways in asthma.

  • Catalyst Prize Introduced to Alexandra C. RacanelliMD, PhD, from Joan & Sanford I. Cornell University Weill Medical College, for his project entitled “The role of endothelial-derived leucine-rich 2-alpha glycoprotein-1 (LRG1) in the pathogenesis of COPD”. Dr. Racanelli’s lab discovered that dysfunction of blood vessels in the lungs leads to the development of the type of lung destruction found in COPD. They will use a mouse model of COPD and human lung cells to better understand how this dysfunction develops. In particular, they will focus on a specific protein called LRG1 and see if excessive levels lead to blood vessel abnormalities and possibly the development of COPD. These findings could help develop new therapies targeting the damaged blood vessels that cause COPD, and potentially improve the lives of millions of patients.

The Lung Association National Research Program includes the scholarship and fellowship program, as well as our Airway Clinical Research Networkthe largest national network of not-for-profit clinical research centers dedicated to research in the treatment of asthma and COPD.

For more information on the new winners and the entire American Lung Association research team, please visit lung.org/research-team.

About the American Lung Association

The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, awareness and research. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: defeating lung cancer; champion clean air for all; improve the quality of life of people with lung disease and their families; and creating a tobacco-free future. For more information about the American Lung Association, which is rated 4-star by Charity Navigator and is a Gold-Level GuideStar member, or to support its work, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.

American Lung Association • 55 W. Wacker Drive, Suite 1150 • Chicago, IL 60601
1331 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Ste. 1425 North • washington d.c. 20004
1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) Lung.org

CONTACT: Jill Dale | American Lung Association T: 312-940-7001 Email: [email protected]

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