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Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis and American Thoracic Society Announce Recipients of 2009-10 Research Awards

CPF and ATS to Jointly Award $200,000 to Advance Understanding and Treatment of Pulmonary Fibrosis (PF)

SAN JOSE, Calif., Feb. 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis (CPF) and the American Thoracic Society (ATS), the world's leading professional organization for pulmonary, critical care and sleep physicians, today announced that Melissa Hunter, Ph.D. from Ohio State University Medical Center (Columbus, OH) and Harikrishna Tanjore, Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University Medical Center (Nashville, TN) were selected as recipients of the 2009-2010 ATS/CPF Partnership Grants for Pulmonary Fibrosis.

Dr. Hunter, a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine at OSU, is the recipient of a two-year, $100,000 award to investigate "MicroRNA Regulation in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis." Preliminary data from the OSU laboratory indicate that the expression of several miRNAs -- small regulatory RNAs that regulate gene expression -- encoded by the "miR-17~92 cluster" are decreased in the lungs of IPF/ILD patients, as well as mice treated with bleomycin to induce lung fibrosis. Dr. Hunter will investigate whether the loss of expression of this cluster contributes to the pathogenesis of pulmonary fibrosis. The ultimate goal of this study is to identify new biomarkers and molecular targets in patients with IPF/ILD.

Dr. Tanjore, Research Assistant Professor Department of Allergy, Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine at Vanderbilt, is the recipient of a two-year, $100,000 award to investigate "Contribution of Epithelial Mesenchymal Transition (EMT) to Pulmonary Fibrosis." EMT is induced by transforming growth factor beta signaling in the alveolar epithelium and plays a pivotal role in determining whether the response to tissue injury leads to normal repair or lung fibrosis. Dr. Tanjore's study seeks to determine the extent of EMT in bleomycin induced pulmonary fibrosis and identify the phenotypic differences between EMT derived and non-EMT derived fibroblasts, and investigate the role of EMT in the lungs. Acquiring knowledge regarding the origins of lung fibroblasts and specific phenotypic characteristics of subtypes of this cell population will improve understanding of the biology of fibrotic remodeling and hopefully will lead to development of new targeted therapies for IPF and other fibrotic lung diseases.

The ATS/CPF Partnership Grants for Pulmonary Fibrosis were established in 2006. Previous awards include:

  • $100,000, two-year award from 2007-2008 to Sonye K. Danoff, M.D., Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University. "VEGF: Marker or mediator of lung injury in pulmonary fibrosis?" is testing the hypothesis that locally elevated levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in the lungs of patients with autoimmune pulmonary fibrosis contribute to disease progression.
  • $100,000, two-year award from 2008-2009 to Andrew M. Tager, M.D. of Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. "Mechanisms of Fibrosis Driven by Lysophosphatidic Acid (LPA) and its Receptor LPA1" is investigating the role of Lysophosphatidic Acid (LPA) and its cognate receptor LPA1 in lung injury and fibroproliferation.

About the ATS/CPF Partnership Grant for Pulmonary Fibrosis

Established in 2006, the ATS/CPF partnership grants are selected through a rigorous peer-review application process administered by ATS. Awards are selected from a series of applications in the areas of basic, clinical, genetic, and translational research that focus on identifying new approaches to understanding or treating pulmonary fibrosis. The partnership has led to $400,000 in new grants through 2008. The initial application deadline for the 2009 ATS/CPF awards is June, 2009, and the award recipients will be announced in December, 2009.

About Pulmonary Fibrosis (PF)

PF is a lung disorder characterized by a progressive scarring -- known as fibrosis -- and deterioration of the lungs, which slowly robs its victims of their ability to breathe. Approximately 128,000 Americans suffer from PF, and there is currently no known cause or cure. An estimated 48,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. IPF is difficult to diagnose and an estimated two-thirds of patients die within five years of diagnosis. Sometimes pulmonary fibrosis can be linked to a particular cause, such as certain environmental exposures, chemotherapy or radiation therapy, residual infection, or autoimmune diseases such as scleroderma or rheumatoid arthritis. However, in many instances, no known cause can be established. When this is the case, it is called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).

About the Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis (CPF)

The CPF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, founded in 2001 to accelerate research efforts leading to a cure for pulmonary fibrosis (PF), while educating, supporting, and advocating for the community of patients, families, and medical professionals fighting this disease. The CPF funds promising research into new approaches to treat and cure pulmonary fibrosis; provides patients and families with comprehensive education materials, resources, and hope; serves as a voice for national advocacy of PF issues; and works to improve awareness of PF in the medical community as well as the general public. The CPF's nonprofit partners include many of the most respected medical centers and healthcare organizations in the U.S. With more than 17,000 members nationwide, the CPF is the largest nonprofit organization in the U.S. dedicated to advocating for those with pulmonary fibrosis. For more information please visit or call (888) 222-8541.

About the American Thoracic Society

The American Thoracic Society (ATS) is a non-profit, international, professional and scientific society for respiratory, critical care and sleep medicine. The ATS is committed globally to the prevention and treatment of respiratory disease through research, education, patient care and advocacy. The long-range goal of the ATS is to decrease morbidity and mortality from respiratory disorders and life threatening acute illnesses in people of all ages. In keeping with these goals, the American Thoracic Society interacts with both national and international organizations which have similar goals. For more information please visit

SOURCE Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis
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