Applications Now Open for 2023 PFF Scholars Program

Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation project offers $100,000 for 2 years of research

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by Patricia Inácio, PhD |

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The Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF) is welcoming applications for its 2023 PFF Scholars program, which helps fund early-stage investigators developing research to improve the outcomes of people with pulmonary fibrosis (PF).

Each investigator will receive a two-year research grant totaling $100,000, which is an increase of $25,000 a scholar from previous years. Private donations to the PFF funded the increase.

The PFF is now accepting applications. Letters of intent should be submitted by Wednesday, Nov. 30, at 5 p.m. ET via the online platform ProposalCentral.

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“Our PFF Scholars will be tomorrow’s leaders in the field of pulmonary fibrosis research,” Bill Schmidt, PPF president and CEO, said in a press release. “We are pleased to increase our support of their vital research that will shed light on some of the most pressing questions we have about PF.”

The PFF Scholars program was designed to fund research aimed at developing therapies to lessen the impact and improve the quality of life of people with PF. The program funds projects across five main areas: basic science and translational, clinical, epidemiological, and health services research.

2022 winners and their research

The winners of the 2022 PFF Scholars program included Alison DeDent, MD, from the University of California, San Francisco. She is developing a telehealth, or telemedicine, program to facilitate the care of patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) living in rural areas; her project is titled “Development of a Telehealth Intervention Targeting Barriers to Early Guideline-Concordant Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Care for Rural Populations.”

Genta Ishikawa, MD, at Yale University, is developing a project titled “Neuro-innate Interactions in Pulmonary Fibrosis.” An increasing body of evidence supports a close interplay between cells of the nervous system and immune cells during development and disease. Ishikawa’s project will explore these interactions in the context of PF.

Luis Rodriguez, PhD, at the University of Pennsylvania, received funding for his project, titled “Metabolic Dysfunction and Epigenetic Reprogramming in Distal Alveolar Epithelial Progenitor Cell Function and IPF.” It will investigate how metabolic dysfunction and epigenetic changes — chemical DNA modifications that are able to turn genes on or off without changing their actual DNA sequence — may drive IPF in a particular progenitor cell type in the lungs called distal alveolar cells.

Cathryn Lee, MD, from the University of Chicago, specializes in pulmonary and critical care medicine, with a focus on how exposure to certain substances, whether at the workplace or at home, impacts lung function and quality of life in people with interstitial lung diseases (ILDs), an umbrella term for conditions marked by lung inflammation and tissue scarring. Her project is titled “Identifying the Impact of Workplace Exposures on Quality of Life, Lung Function, and Survival Across Interstitial Lung Disease.”

Other former PFF Scholars have published their research findings in peer-reviewed journals. These include Gillian C. Goobie, MD, from the University of Pittsburgh, who recently published a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine detailing the impact of air pollution on the development and progression of ILDs.