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American Lung Association Increases Research Investment; Funds $12.6 Million in Lung Health Grants

Organization funds more than 100 promising research grants, including on COVID-19, lung cancer and vaping policy

At a time when lung health is more important than ever, the American Lung Association announced today that it has increased its research funding to award $12.6 million for more than 100 research grants.

The funded projects address a wide range of lung health topics, including COVID-19 in children, the public health impacts of e-cigarette policy and lung cancer in never smokers.

“Each day, we face new and pressing lung health challenges from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to climate change and youth e-cigarette use. For more than 115 years, the American Lung Association has been the trusted champion of lung health by helping people manage lung disease, educating healthcare providers to better treat their patients and now investing even more in lung health research,” said American Lung Association President and CEO Harold Wimmer. “With these new research projects, we empower some of the best scientists to fundamentally change how lung diseases, including lung cancer, impact our lives.”

Research projects funded by the Lung Association are carefully selected through a rigorous review committee and represent the investigation of a wide range of complex issues to help reduce the burden of lung disease. Awards are given 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.

In total, $12.6 million was awarded to more than 100 grants, including seven new COVID-19 research grants. Meet our full research team, including our current awardees, and read the full abstracts at Lung.org/research-team. A few of the recent grant awardees include:

  • Lung Cancer Discovery Award presented to Lixing Yang, Ph.D., from the University of Chicago for his project titled “Discovery of New Oncogenes in Lung Cancers in Never Smokers.” Yang aims to discover which genetic changes might cause lung cancer using information from 2,500 tumors of never smokers collected by the National Cancer Institute. While tobacco smoking is the main cause of lung cancer, as many as 25% of lung cancers occur in never smokers, but very few studies have been done on these tumors. Through this research, Yang expects to find novel drug targets and improve patient care and survival.
  • Innovation Award presented to Krishna Reddy, Ph.D., from Massachusetts General Hospital for the project “The Public Health Impact of Electronic Cigarette Policies.” Reddy’s research will use a new simulation model of tobacco and nicotine use to project the impact of various e-cigarette policies on e-cigarette use, tobacco smoking, and downstream health effects among U.S. youth and adults. The findings will provide clinicians and public health officials with data to more quickly inform policy decisions around e-cigarettes.
  • COVID-19 Respiratory Virus Research Award presented to Bria Coates, M.D., from Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago for her project titled “Cross-reactive T Cells and Severity of Illness in SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Children and Adults.” This research project will study how age affects the immune system response in fighting the SARS-CoV-2 virus. These findings will help clinicians understand how the virus affects children and adults and better personalize treatment.

Just last month, the Lung Association announced COVID-19 research grants through its COVID-19 Action Initiative, a $25 million investment in research, education, advocacy and coalition over the next three years. The COVID-19 Action Initiative provides free lung health education to those in need, protects public health by advocating for COVID-19 and flu vaccines in underserved communities, and prevents future outbreaks by investing in respiratory virus research.

For more information about the new grant awardees and the entire American Lung Association Research Team, visit Lung.org/research-team.

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