Five research centers have been awarded an $11 million, 2-year grant from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) that will allow a national team of scientists to delve deeply into the biology of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and pulmonary fibrosis (PF)

The research centers include the following: National Jewish Health, Denver; University of Colorado, Denver; University of Pittsburgh; Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston; and Boston University.

Advanced genetic and molecular tools will be used to characterize and better understand the two diseases. The resulting discoveries will be shared with researchers around the world in a Web-accessible data warehouse.

"Our aim is create a genetic and molecular treasure trove for the research community to redefine these lung diseases precisely and unequivocally," said David Schwartz, MD, one of the lead researchers on the project and director of The Center for Genes, Environment and Health at National Jewish Health. "The genetic, epigenetic, transcriptional, and phenotypic data we generate will provide an unprecedented window into the origins, dynamic biological features and unique presentations of these diseases. It will allow researchers to make fundamental discoveries that help identify individuals at risk for these diseases, diagnose them earlier, and develop more effective, personalized treatments."

Researchers will study tissue samples from the NHLBI Lung Tissue Research Consortium biorepository, and then combine the data they generate with pathobiological, clinical, and radiological data already gathered for these samples. According to National Jewish Health, the biorepository currently contains almost 1,300 well-characterized tissue samples and collects about 250 additional samples per year from patients with COPD, PF, and other chronic lung diseases.