Marion O. Sandler, Chairman of the Board of the American Asthma Foundation (AAF), named twelve distinguished scientists, chosen from a pool of 327 applicants, to receive a total of $8 million in research grants. These awards are given to outstanding scientists to investigate cutting-edge approaches to improving treatments, prevention and, eventually, curing asthma. In announcing these awards, Sandler stated, "These grants reflect the AAF's emphasis on innovation as the major weapon in the fight against asthma, a disease that affects one in every 13 Americans."
The $8 million will be allocated among awardees who will each receive up to $750,000 over a three-year period. This year's winners join the past 110 grant recipients researching potentially-groundbreaking approaches to address the asthma epidemic. As in previous years, awardees come from outstanding academic institutions in the United States and foreign countries and include a range of scientific disciplines, such as biology, aerospace engineering, immunology, and imaging. Some of the more innovative programs this year include:
- How the use of nanotechnology can create an instrument that will detect the type and severity of an asthmatic reaction to various environmental triggers;
- How a chemical released by rotten eggs may reduce the severity of attacks; and
- How one's nerves control airway tightening and how to modify these nerves to inhibit asthmatic reactions.
"The AAF approach is deemed successful by any measure," stated Dean Smith, the Executive Director. "American Asthma Foundation awards so far have produced 17 potential breakthrough pathways into new treatments, preventions or cures, with 11 securing pharmaceutical industry investment. Three of these breakthroughs are already in clinical trials."
To put the AAF contribution in perspective, Smith added, "Since the American Asthma Foundation began, over $70 million has been granted to awardees to pursue the basic research essential to providing relief to asthma sufferers. These funds total more than all other private money financing for asthma research combined. Moreover, AAF scientists have gone on to secure over $36 million in additional funds based on the work begun under the AAF."
Asthma is a chronic, complex disease that is a major public health problem. Over 23 million- or one in 13 – people in the United States have asthma. – More Americans have asthma than have coronary heart disease or cancer or Parkinson's disease. Asthma is the most serious chronic disease of childhood and disproportionately strikes the poor.
This year's winners, along with a brief description of their projects, can be seen at www.americanasthmafoundation.org.