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NIH gives PITT $13 million grant for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease research

PITTSBURGH, Jan. 18 -- The University of Pittsburgh has been awarded an estimated $13 million research grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop novel approaches that seek to increase our understanding of and improve outcomes for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a degenerative breathing disorder that is the fourth leading cause of death and the second leading cause of disability annually in the United States. The five-year grant establishes the University of Pittsburgh as a Specialized Center of Clinically Oriented Research (SCCOR) in COPD. Such a center encourages basic science research findings to be directed more rapidly toward clinical problems.

Frank C. Sciurba, M.D., is principal investigator of the SCCOR grant, which entails three unique projects and three resource cores to support the research. Dr. Sciurba is associate professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and director of the Emphysema Research Center in the division of pulmonary, allergy and critical care medicine.

The grant has important clinical relevance because the NHLBI estimates that 12 million adults currently have a diagnosis of COPD, with an additional 12 million unaware that they have the disorder. COPD is a lung disease commonly related to smoking that diminishes breathing capacity over time and includes conditions such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

"COPD damages the lung tissue, expanding and breaking down the walls of air sacs and thickening small airways, which hinders air flow into the lungs and transfer of oxygen into the blood," explained Dr. Sciurba. "These studies will help us to better understand the disease process and possibly devise better treatment options for patients."

Each of the research projects capitalizes on findings of basic science and clinical research performed by the University of Pitts
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Contact: Michele Baum
BaumMD@upmc.edu
412-647-3555
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
18-Jan-2007


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