NHLBI Awards $11 Million to Create a Molecular Roadmap for Chronic Lung Diseases

National Jewish Health, University of Colorado Denver, University of Pittsburgh,
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Boston University in joint project

National Jewish Health and four other research centers have been awarded an $11 million, two-year grant from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute as part of the NIH Recovery Act that will allow a team of national scientists to delve deeply into the biology of two fatal lung diseases for which there are few therapeutic options. The multi-center Lung Genomics Research Consortium will use advanced genetic and molecular tools to characterize and better understand chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pulmonary fibrosis, then share its discoveries with researchers around the world in a web-accessible data warehouse.

"Our aim is create a genetic and molecular treasure trove for the research community to redefine these lung diseases precisely and unequivocally," said David Schwartz, MD, one of the lead researchers on the project and Director of The Center for Genes, Environment and Health at National Jewish Health. "The genetic, epigenetic, transcriptional, and phenotypic data we generate will provide an unprecedented window into the origins, dynamic biological features and unique presentations of these diseases. It will allow researchers to make fundamental discoveries that help identify individuals at risk for these diseases, diagnose them earlier, and develop more effective, personalized treatments."

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. The incidence of pulmonary fibrosis has doubled over the past decade, and now kills about 40,000 Americans each year. There are few effective treatments for either disease, and both diseases are fatal.

Researchers will study tissue samples from the NHLBI Lung Tissue Research Consortium biorepository then combine the data they generate with pathobiological, clinical and radiological data already gathered for these samples. The biorepository now contains almost 1,300 well characterized tissue samples and collects about 250 additional samples per year from patients with COPD, pulmonary fibrosis and other chronic lung diseases.

This project will be led by a team of principal investigators, including David Schwartz, MD, at National Jewish Health, Mark Geraci, MD, at the University of Colorado Denver's School of Medicine; Naftali Kaminski, MD, and Frank Sciurba, MD, at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; John Quackenbush, PhD, at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; and Avrum Spira, MD, at Boston University School of Medicine.

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