College of Medicine receives $54 million grant for asthma research

Hershey, Pa. -- The Penn State College of Medicine's Department of Public Health Sciences has received a grant of about $54 million over seven years to act as the data coordinating center (DCC) for the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute's (NHLBI) AsthmaNet. This grant is one of the largest in the college’s history. AsthmaNet is a research collaboration of multiple clinical centers across the nation that conducts clinical trials to address new treatments and asthma management.

“AsthmaNet is a very exciting research endeavor and should yield valuable information on the treatment and management of asthma, as well as on some of the mechanistic aspects of the disease,” said Vernon Chinchilli, chair of the Department of Public Health Sciences. “In addition, it is very exciting that the NHLBI has recognized our department and Penn State College of Medicine for its research achievements and has selected us as the AsthmaNet data coordinating center.”

The NHLBI Asthma Network (AsthmaNet) will develop and conduct multiple clinical trials to address the most important asthma management questions and new treatment approaches in pediatric and adult populations.

“The emphasis will be on Phase II and Phase III clinical trials that help identify optimal therapies for a variety of asthma phenotypes, genotypes, and racial and ethnic backgrounds,” said Dave Mauger, the study’s principal investigator and division chief of biostatistics in Public Health Sciences.

AsthmaNet expands the efforts of the Asthma Clinical Research Network (ACRN), started in 1993, and the Childhood Asthma Research and Education (CARE) Network, started in 1999. ACRN and the CARE Network conducted multiple, multicenter clinical trials in adult asthma and pediatric asthma, respectively. The College of Medicine’s Public Health Sciences department had functioned as the data coordinating center for both of those clinical research networks since their inception.

“AsthmaNet will represent an essential component in the national effort to develop, implement and refine treatment approaches that are optimal for individual patients,” said Dan Notterman, vice dean of research and graduate studies. “The research that is supported by this data coordinating center will result in better care for thousands of people with asthma. We are proud that investigators at the College of Medicine are recognized as international leaders in this effort.”

The three biostatistical investigators working on AsthmaNet -- Mauger, Chinchilli and Tonya King, -- all have years of experience leading data coordinating centers, including Mauger as principal investigator on the CARE Network center, Chinchilli as principal investigator on the ACRN center, and King as a co-investigator on the ACRN center.

Enrolling its first students in 1967, Penn State College of Medicine confers the doctor of medicine degree and, in conjunction with the University's Graduate School, offers doctor of philosophy degrees in anatomy, biochemistry and molecular biology, bioengineering, cell and molecular biology, genetics, immunology and infectious diseases, integrative biosciences (options in bioinformatics and genomics and chemical biology), microbiology and immunology, molecular medicine, molecular toxicology, neuroscience, pharmacology and physiology. In addition, the College of Medicine offers master of science degrees in anatomy, public health sciences, homeland security and laboratory animal medicine.

Penn State College of Medicine, located on the campus of Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pa., has a portfolio of more than $100 million in funded research. Projects range from the development of artificial organs and advanced diagnostics to groundbreaking cancer treatments and understanding the fundamental causes of disease.

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Last Updated August 11, 2010