UVA researcher gets funding for childhood asthma work

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- A researcher at the University of Virginia School of Medicine has been selected for the American Lung Association's 2019-2020 Research Team.

Monica Lawrence, MD, is also getting $75,000 to research severe childhood asthma treatments.

According to a release, the ALA has expanded its research investment to $8.7 million through the Airways Clinical Research Center Network, or ACRC, and the Awards and Grants program.

Projects funded by the ALA can investigate a wide range of issues to help fight and reduce the suffering of lung disease.

Lawrence's work at UVA received the ALA/AAAAI Allergy-Asthma Award, which is funded in partnership with the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

She will be looking into childhood asthma, which is a chronic inflammatory lung disorder that affects about nine percent of children in the United States.

For some children who have severe or treatment-resistant versions, this can lead to significant health care expenditures for the families as well as missing school time and a lower quality of life.

The release says severe asthma is often characterized by the presence of neutrophils, an inflammatory cell type found in the lower airways.

At this time, there are no therapies that are specifically designed to target neutrophilic asthma.

Lawrence will be looking at the expression and function of the receptor for a protein called interleukin-5, or IL-5R, on the surface of airway neutrophils cells, in the hope of learning how treatments targeting that protein may be effective in fighting severe childhood asthma.

The Awards and Grants program gives researchers funding, at all levels of their career, so they can work to prevent, treat and potentially cure lung disease.

The ACRC is the largest not-for-profit network of clinical research centers dedicated to asthma and COPD treatment research in the country.

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