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We're backing 3 outstanding lung researchers

Today, we’re excited to tell you about our new BLF professorial research chairs


What is a research chair and why does it matter? 

A research chair is an academic position, created at the level of professor, that recognises a significant contribution to scholarship and research.

We’re giving awards to 3 outstanding lung researchers: Louise Wain at the University of Leicester, Toby Maher at Imperial College London, and James Chalmers at the University of Dundee.

All 3 are ready to take the next step in their careers as independent, internationally recognised leaders of lung research.

We're making the appointments in partnership with universities that are committed to lung research. By giving the awards, we can make sure that lung health stays a real focus for each university.

We’re keen to make sure our researchers are world class. In the future, they’ll help to train more respiratory researchers. That way, they can pass the baton to the next generation.

What will they be researching?

Louise Wain

As GSK/BLF chair in respiratory research, Louise’s research will focus on 2 important lung conditions: idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Her research will look at the DNA of people with and without IPF, as well as those with and without COPD.

She’ll compare people with the same disease and look for genetic differences that might explain why some people develop disease and others don’t, and why people’s symptoms are different. She will use this information to figure out how it can be used to give people personalised treatments.

Toby Maher

As BLF chair in respiratory research, Toby’s research will focus on finding ways to improve outcomes for people living with IPF. He aims to find out more about the biological mechanisms that cause lung scarring.

His research will identify groups of individuals who may respond to personalised treatment. It’ll come up with better ways to measure changes in lung scarring and to improve clinical trials to test new IPF treatments.

It’ll also develop ways to monitor patients so we can detect and treat life-threatening infections as early as possible.   

James Chalmers

As GSK/BLF chair in respiratory research, James’ research will focus on choosing the right treatment for the right person for people living with bronchiectasis. James has identified a significant problem with bronchiectasis treatment. Currently, doctors find it hard to understand which treatment suits each person best.

His research will aim to create tests that can help match treatments to people by using state-of-the-art methods like gene sequencing and inflammation measurement technology. These methods will help categorise patients right down to cell level. 

That means researchers can see which treatment tends to work on which type of person. Eventually, the research aims to show in drug trials that it’s possible to predict which patients will get better.  

These are all such exciting projects. They’ll make a difference to people's lives. And what's more they're all focused on areas where research isn't prioritised enough. It's a sign of how we're offering hope to people living with a lung condition. 

Want to support our research? Make a donation today and you can help fund vital work in finding cures and treatments for lung disease. 

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Ian is our head of research and has worked at the BLF for a decade. He previously studied biochemistry and worked in the medical research charity sector.

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14 August 2017