The American Thoracic Society (ATS) Foundation and Boehringer Ingelheim have jointly launched a new research fellowship in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), aiming to grant young investigators $100,000 over a two-year period from December 2018 to November 2020.
The application process is now open; applications will be reviewed for their scientific merit, innovation, feasibility and relevance to IPF.
“Currently available medications may slow the inexorable progression of disease, but cannot halt it,” Dr. Eric White, director of translational interstitial lung disease research at the University of Michigan Medical School, said in a press release. “This research fellowship demonstrates an ongoing commitment by Boehringer Ingelheim and the ATS Foundation to support young investigators who will identify new treatments for our patients.”
White added: “In a time when it is increasingly challenging to garner NIH [National Institutes of Health] support for biomedical research, this type of research award is vitally important to both researchers and patients alike.”
The ATS Foundation research program has awarded more than $16 million since 2004 to 210 investigators who have received additional federal funding. Without this “seed” support, young researchers might not have received subsequent grants and contributed to a better understanding of pulmonary disease.
“We are proud to support ATS on this unique fellowship and continue our long-standing efforts to advance IPF research,” said Dr. Craig Conoscenti, an interstitial lung disease expert at Boehringer Ingelheim. “This fellowship builds on our 100-year heritage in respiratory disease and offers another opportunity for our company to continue to improve care for those living with this rare lung disease.”
IPF describes a group of lung disorders characterized by thickening of the walls of the alveoli in the lungs, caused by scarring (fibrosis). This can lead to shortness of breath, cough, fatigue and low blood oxygen levels.
IPF patient-advocate Sandra Rock of northern California knows all too well the consequences of the disease.
“I lose approximately 10 support group members a year to a devastating disease that has no cure,” she wrote in an ATS-sponsored blog posting. Rock started a support group in 2002 with other patients. “For many patients living with the disease, there’s only anticipation of future research catching up to them, such as new medicines to stop the scarring and possibly even reverse it.”