National Jewish Health has created The Cohen Family Asthma Institute thanks to a $5 million gift from Michele and Martin Cohen of New York. The Institute will address an emerging gap in severe asthma care, research and education while seeking a cure for the disease in five years, according to an organization news release.

“We have made great strides in asthma care, but significant needs remain, especially for patients with severe, life-threatening asthma,” said Michael Salem, MD, president and CEO of National Jewish Health. “With this tremendous gift from the Cohens, we aim to continue our decades of focused excellence in asthma research and care. The creation of the Asthma Institute will serve as the catalyst to enable us to approach a cure for children and adults suffering from severe asthma.”

Asthma prevalence continues to rise, now afflicting 25 million Americans. Asthma kills thousands of people and causes 2.2 million hospitalizations and emergency room visits every year. Direct healthcare costs of asthma are more than $50 billion per year.

“We have been so impressed over the years by the extraordinary dedication and excellence at National Jewish Health that we wanted to make an impactful gift,” said Mr. Cohen, a national trustee for the institution. “When I asked, they told me, ‘Asthma is where your gift can make an important difference.’ Michele and I are proud to fund this pioneering initiative.”

The NJH Asthma Institute will build on historic strengths at National Jewish Health in asthma, allergy and immunology while bringing together a broad coalition of researchers, physicians, patients and health care organizations to focus on the causes, treatments and prevention of asthma. Co-Directors Michael Wechsler, MD, and Rohit Katial, MD, with Associate Director Ronina Covar, MD, will lead the Cohen Family Asthma Institute. Richard Martin, MD, who is chair of the Department of Medicine at National Jewish Health, will also chair the Cohen Family Asthma Institute’s Board of Directors.

The NJH Asthma Institute will have additional national reach through collaborations in New York with the Mount Sinai – National Jewish Health Respiratory Institute, and locally with Saint Joseph Hospital and its parent SCL Health, and with Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children.