Joseph P. Mizgerd, ScD, professor of medicine, has received an Outstanding Investigator Award from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He will use this seven-year, $5.9 million grant to study the biology of pneumonia.
Together with his research team, Mizgerd plans to further advance the understanding of lung defense against pneumonia, generate new approaches to preventing and curing pneumonia and further the concept that pneumonia is a chronic disease of aging.
According to Mizgerd, pneumonia kills more children worldwide and hospitalizes more children in the United States than any other disease. The risk of death from pneumonia increases throughout adulthood, affecting older adults more than children. Pneumonia also accelerates unhealthy aging, including a rapid decline of chronic pulmonary diseases and cardiovascular diseases.
“We need to understand the lung defenses that normally prevent pneumonia in young, healthy adults before we can identify, prevent, or reverse what goes wrong to make individuals susceptible to pneumonia,” Mizgerd said.
This is the first year that the NHLBI has provided Outstanding Investigator Awards, designed to support the research program of an investigator rather than one single research project. According to Mizgerd, “It means a lot to me that the NHLBI provided such an award to a pneumonia researcher. It demonstrates recognition of the terrible lung disease that pneumonia is, and a commitment to fighting respiratory infection by focusing on the lung rather than just the microbe.”