The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) recently announced that Vikas Anathy, PhD, is the 2014 recipient of AAFA’s Sheldon C. Siegel Investigator Grant Award.

AAFA’s annual research award provides $20,000 per year for two years to selected projects that are highly rated by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) but which the NIH is unable to fund. These “bridge grants” have been awarded by AAFA for more than 30 years to help promising researchers continue their important work.

Dr. Anathy is an Assistant Professor in the University of Vermont’s Department of Pathology. He earned a PhD in Biological Sciences from Madurai Kamaraj University in India, and completed his postdoctoral work at the University of Vermont. His winning research proposal to AAFA, entitled “Endoplasmic Reticulum (ER) Stress Signaling in Allergen-Induced Airway Remodeling,” will help researchers better understand how allergens affect the lungs.

“Long-term repeated exposure to allergens can trigger a cycle of repair and remodeling in the lungs leading to stiffness of the lungs and respiratory failure,” says Dr. Anathy. “We have discovered that allergens generate a stress response in a specialized structure inside lung cells and this research supported by AAFA will help me to investigate the contribution of allergens to the stress response, and to explore the potential drugs to reverse the stiffness of the lung.”

AAFA is the only patient organization in the US that funds basic science research for asthma and allergies, according to the organization. The Foundation’s research program is dedicated to enhancing the overall understanding of asthma and allergic diseases, developing improved treatments, and searching for cures.

“AAFA is committed to research that can lead to improved treatments—and eventually a cure—for people with asthma and allergies,” says AAFA President and CEO, Cary Sennett, MD, PhD, FACP. “We are delighted to add Dr. Anathy to the list of young investigators we have supported over the years, whose creative work moves us, every year, closer to that.”