Currently Funded

Respiratory Health Association funds groundbreaking lung disease research at major Chicagoland institutions. The following researchers and projects are have recently been awarded RHA grants.

2017 Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Research Award

Dr. A. Christine ArgentoInvestigator
A. Christine Argento, MD,
Northwestern University

Project Title
Comparison of Transbronchial, Cryoprobe and Video-Assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery Biopsy for the Diagnosis of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis

Respiratory Health Association encouraged applications from junior investigators interested in conducting translational research. RHA appreciated the value this project may have in seeking a way to minimize use of other more invasive diagnostic procedures for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). We hope this award leads to improvements in the treatment options for IPF.

Research Summary
Dr. Argento is investigating different biopsy procedures in the diagnosis of IPF. Typically, IPF diagnosis requires patients to undergo a surgical lung biopsy which carries a 2-6% post-surgical mortality risk within 90 days of the procedure. However, other safe procedures including cryobiopsies and transbronchial biopsies exist and may prove invaluable in the diagnosis of IPF. Dr. Argento's research will be the first to directly compare crybiopsy to transbronchial bronchoscopic biopsy and surgical biopsy.

2017 Lung Cancer Research Award  

Dr. Kevin HaasInvestigator
Kevin Haas, MD, University of Illinois at Chicago

Project Title
Pulmonary Nodule Diagnostic and Therapeutic Timeliness Study (PuNDiTT)


RHA research application review committee was impressed by the translational characteristics of this work which closely align with the mission of RHA. In particular, RHA appreciated the interest in working to determine the health literacy of an underserved predominately minority population with high risk pulmonary nodules.  We hope this award assists in the development of research that will make a positive impact on future work leading to improvements in lung cancer screening. 

Research Summary
Dr. Haas is investigating health equity in the management of high risk pulmonary nodules. The process to determine if a lung nodule is cancerous is complex, requiring multiple tests that can overwhelm individuals with low health literacy. PuNDiTT will help determine how population demographics, health literacy rates, and delays in the management of high risk nodules affect clinical outcomes. Dr. Haas's study will provide the groundwork to improve the timeliness and efficiency of lung cancer screening programs in providing individualized care to an understudied population. 

2016 Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Research Award

Anna Lam, MD,
Professor of Medicine, Pathology and Dermatology, Northwestern University

Project Title
Wnt/beta-catenin signaling impacts macrophage differentiation in persistence of pulmonary fibrosis

Respiratory Health Association encouraged applications from investigators interested in conducting innovative research studies in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) to build upon an existing portfolio of research. The committee appreciated the novel connection of the function of the Wnt/beta-catenin pathway to pulmonary fibrosis. We are hopeful her efforts will lead to enhancements in the lives of those living with IPF in the future and further advance the study of the genetic factors impacting IPF.

Research Summary
Dr. Lam is investigating important pathways in the treatment of pulmonary fibrosis. Core pathways, such as Wnt/beta-catenin, that are important during human prenatal development, are altered in IPF.
Abnormal function of the Wnt/beta-catenin pathway is known to cause human diseases such as colon cancer and osteoporosis. Dr. Lam and her team are the first to link this pathway to lung fibrosis.

2016 Lung Cancer Research Award

Dr. Gye Young Park,
Assistant Professor of Medicine, Director of the Pulmonary and Diagnostic Laboratory, The University of Illinois at Chicago 

Project Title
Macrophage Regulation of Lung Cancer Progression

RHA sought applications designed to investigate lung cancer and the development and testing of new methodologies including models to treat this disease.
The committee felt that Dr. Park’s research closely aligns with RHA’s mission and looks forward to the advancements that this award will have on lung cancer treatment in the future.

Research Summary
Dr. Park is investigating a new therapeutic strategy for lung cancer by modifying the phenotype of tumor associated macrophages (TAMs). It is known that m
acrophages inside or within the surrounding area of a tumor play a role in tumor growth. However, this type of macrophage secretes biologically active substances to enhance tumor growth. The alteration of TAM characteristics could be implicated and improve treatment of lung cancer. Dr. Park will examine the involvement of the macrophage cellular and biochemical mechanisms as it relates to lung cancer in an effort to develop new approaches for treatment resulting in an increased survival rate.

More information about research and areas of study:

For more information about RHA's involvement in research,
contact Jennifer Kustwin, MPH by phone at (312) 628-0219 or email Research.