Respiratory research gets a much needed boost


By Nicola Garrett

26 Mar 2018

An unprecedented amount of dollars will be going to fund research into respiratory diseases this year thanks to a joint initiative by the TSANZ, the Lung Foundation Australia, Cystic Fibrosis Australia and the National Asthma Council.

Speaking to a packed room before the award recipients were announced Lung Foundation Australia (LFA) Chair Professor Christine Jenkins told conference delegates the research awards had a critical part to play in increasing the profile of respiratory research and were of “immense importance” to the thoracic fraternity.

“When we award people for research proposals and grant applications we are up-skilling our organisations to do more research and to build our capacity to understand the causes and best management of lung disease,” she said.

Over the last three years the LFA increased its research funding from $393,000 in 2015 to over one million dollars last year, a figure which is projected to grow even more this year. The dollar figure for funding has been helped by candidates securing matched funding from their institutions.  

While great strides had been made in allocating more dollars to  lung cancer research it was still grossly underfunded considering its burden in the community and the fact that the disease was the leading cause of cancer death in Australia, Professor Jenkins said.

“Last year alone the lung cancer clinical trials program initiated 7 new trials collectively worth $7.2 million that will enable 700 people with lung cancer to participate in clinical trials for new treatments,” she told delegates.

“But when you think there are 12000 new patients with lung cancer diagnosed every year you realise that 700 patients isn’t enough. We really need more patients on clinical trials to get the best treatment,” she added.

Key award recipients:

Lung Foundation Australia/Boehringer Ingelheim COPD Research Fellowship 2018/2019 – Dr Richard Kim for his work Investigating the roles, therapeutic targeting and clinical relevance of microRNAs in COPD.

Lung Foundation Australia/Better Breathing Foundation Allied Health PhD Scholarship for Chronic Lung Disease – Fiona Coll for her project “Stand Up for COPD”.

Lung Foundation Australia/Bill van Nierop Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis PhD Scholarship – Tylah Miles for her project The immune regulation of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

Lung Foundation Australia / Deep Manchanda Early Career Fellowship in Lung Cancer – Dr Clare Weeden for her work “Deep profiling of lung cancer, metastasis and the immune system to identify novel therapeutic targets”.

Lung Foundation Australia / Lizotte Family Research Award – Dr Jade Jaffar for her project Identification of Pirfenidone – responsive patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis by high-throughput in-vitro screening.

Lung Foundation Australia / Ludwig Engel Grant-in-Aid for Physiological Research – Dr Philip Robinson for his project Recovery of airway cilial function post lung transplant.

Lung Foundation Australia/ Ivan Cash grant in Aid for Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) Research  – Dr Helen Jo for her work Role of automated quantitative analysis of HRCTs in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis.

Lung Foundation Australia / Cochrane Airways Australia Scholarship – Angela Burge for her work Interventions for promoting physical activity in people with COPD.



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