Respiratory disease research receives NIH grant

According to the American Lung Association, lung disease is the third-leading killer in America, responsible for 1 in 6 deaths. Today, more than 35 million Americans are living with chronic lung disease such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), otherwise known as emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

This year, Joel B. Baseman, Ph.D., was awarded a five-year $11.5 million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) of the National Institutes of Health for his research of airway diseases. Dr. Baseman is professor and chair of Microbiology and Immunology at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio.

Dr. Baseman’s discovery of the Community-Acquired Respiratory Distress Syndrome Toxin (CARDS TX) is the most important finding in the field since the discovery decades ago of the toxins of diphtheria and pertussis. With this important breakthrough, he is advancing the development of new strategies to diagnose and reduce airway disease in infants, children and adults.

“We believe CARDS TX is a most important virulence factor of airway diseases, and these key studies, propelled by philanthropic support and federal funding, will lead to innovative treatments of serious acute and chronic pulmonary pathologies,” Dr. Baseman said.

The prestigious award is a renewal of a highly competitive NIAID research grant awarded to Dr. Baseman in 2006. The UT Health Science Center is among only a handful of institutions to receive the award. The grant complements a generous $3.2 million, multi-year gift awarded in 2007 by the trustees of the Robert J. Kleberg, Jr., and Helen C. Kleberg Foundation to support Dr. Baseman’s research. Plans are to establish an interdisciplinary cooperative research center in airway diseases in the Health Science Center’s new South Texas Research Facility that will help explain and ultimately provide novel treatments for acute and chronic respiratory problems.