July 28, 2016

Lung Foundation Australia announces two new IPF PhD scholarships

Lung Foundation Australia has announced the winners of two new PhD scholarships worth $180,000 over three years to increase our understanding of a rare and devastating disease called Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF).
Through the generous support of the Wilson family, together with the Pulmonary Fibrosis Consortium, Lung Foundation Australia is offering seven leveraged PhD scholarships worth $90,000 each to be awarded in the coming years and to help put IPF under the research spotlight.

David Wilson_The Daily AdvertiserIPF patient David Wilson, after whom the PhD scholarships are named, said research in Australia was woefully underfunded and he wanted to support local programs for local people. “I don’t know what caused my IPF and there aren’t any answers for me,” Mr Wilson said. “If, by supporting this research, I can help others find the answers I don’t have, it will be a great result,” he said. “It is a personal thing for me to help others.”

Lung Foundation Australia CEO Heather Allan said it was vital that research into rarer lung diseases like IPF was adequately funded. “This is about funding research to save lives,” Mrs Allan said. “IPF causes persistent and progressive scarring of the tiny air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs where the amount of scar tissue irreversibly increases over time, restricting how the lungs can expand, until the thickening caused by this scarring becomes so bad, insufficient oxygen enters the blood stream,” she said. “While the rate at which the disease progresses is highly variable with some patients remaining stable for many years while others get rapidly worse, it is inevitably fatal without a lung transplant.”

The first two David Wilson PhD Scholarships in IPF, each worth $30,000 a year for three years, were awarded in June. Adelle Jee from the University of Sydney is tackling how IPF behaves, its prognosis and if there are markers to predict deterioration. The research will compare IPF patients with another group of patients with interstitial pneumonia with autoimmune features (IPAF). It will deliver practical, clinical outcomes examining blood samples, breathing and tissue samples to develop markers and possible ways to determine the cause of IPF.

The second funded project will be conducted by the University of Newcastle’s David Walters and will examine the role of fibroblasts in strengthening the lungs and why they malfunction in conditions like IPF. This research will target the process that causes the thickening of the lungs in IPF to initially stop the disease from worsening and eventually hopes to possibly reverse it.

For more information about Lung Foundation Australia’s Research Awards visit www.lungfoundation.com.au/research/research-awards/.