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Boston University School of Medicine Awarded Grant To Create a Molecular Roadmap for Chronic Lung Disease

October 14, 2009

BOSTON — Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine and four other institutions have been awarded an $11 million, two-year grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) as part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Recovery Act. This grant will allow scientists to study the biology of two fatal lung diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and pulmonary fibrosis.

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.

The Multi-Center Lung Genomics Research Consortium consists of BUSM, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, National Jewish Health, University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine and University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. They will use advanced genetic and molecular tools to characterize and better understand COPD and pulmonary fibrosis, sharing discoveries with researchers around the world in a web-accessible data warehouse. This allows researchers to make fundamental discoveries that help identify individuals at risk for lung diseases, while diagnosing them earlier and developing more effective, personalized treatments.

Researchers will study tissue samples from the NHLBI Lung Tissue Research Consortium biorepository and 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.

“BUSM's role will be sequencing the transcriptome of 600-800 lung tissue samples, which includes cataloging, with unprecedented resolution, gene expression changes that occur across all major forms of lung disease with the newest generation of deep sequencing technology,” said Principal Investigator Avrum Spira, MD, associate professor of medicine and pathology at BUSM. “We are very fortunate to have financial support from the NHLBI to study these fatal diseases that affect more than 400,000 people a year,” he said.

The NHLBI provides global leadership for a research, training, and education program to promote the prevention and treatment of heart, lung, and blood diseases and enhance the health of all individuals so that they can live longer and more fulfilling lives.

The NHLBI stimulates basic discoveries about the causes of disease, enables the translation of basic discoveries into clinical practice, fosters training and mentoring of emerging scientists and physicians, and communicates research advances to the public. It creates and supports a robust, collaborative research infrastructure in partnership with private and public organizations, including academic institutions, industry, and other government agencies. The Institute collaborates with patients, families, health care professionals, scientists, professional societies, patient advocacy groups, community organizations, and the media to promote the application of research results and leverage resources to address public health needs. The NHLBI also collaborates with international organizations to help reduce the burden of heart, lung, and blood diseases worldwide.

This article originally appeared on the Boston University website. Reposted with permission.

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  • Biotechnology
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
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