$7.7M grant breathes life into new Washington U asthma research center

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NIAIDWashington University said Tuesday that it plans to use a $7.7 million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to establish a new center for asthma research at the university's medical school.

The project was funded Aug. 15, 2006, according to Washington University spokeswoman Gwen Ericson, who said Dr. Michael Holtzman will lead the new center. The center will investigate the causes of asthma to develop new treatments for the disease. It will conduct research specifically focused on how the body's immune system contributes to asthma.

"Normally, immunity is under tight control," said Holtzman, who directs the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, in a statement. "But if the immune response goes too far, it can cause inflammatory diseases like asthma."

The NIAID, one of the National Institutes of Health, will give Holtzman $7,672,140 over five years for the center, which is one of 11 throughout the country.

Ericson said that to receive the funds, "Holtzman submitted a grant proposal in which he spelled out the research to be done in detail, and the funds are to be used for those specific research proposals. The center is not a physically new space. The research will be conducted in existing lab spaces."

While Washington University has received many grants from NIAID, this one's size is impressive. "This multi-center grant project is the showcase program for NIAID in the area of allergic diseases," Ericson said.

In addition to Holtzman, key investigators in the center include Dr. John Atkinson, professor of molecular microbiology; Dr. Jonathan Green, associate professor of medicine and of pathology and immunology; and Dr. Kenneth Murphy, professor of pathology and immunology.

Washington University in St. Louis is a private teaching and research university. Washington University School of Medicine is affiliated with Barnes-Jewish Hospital and St. Louis Children's Hospital.

source - Bizjournals