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Supporting the Next Generation of Respiratory Research

The Canadian Lung Association’s annual studentship and fellowship competition recently awarded two fellowships and one graduate studentship to outstanding trainees in respiratory research. This investment of nearly $50,000 is part of CLA’s larger mission to support innovative research into the causes and treatments of lung diseases. Congratulations to our winners: Carlos Hiroki (Graduate Studentship, University of Calgary), Dr. Gillian Goobie (Post-doctoral fellowship, University of British Columbia) and Dr. Shirley Quach (Allied Health Fellowship, McMaster University).

Carlos’ project investigates the relationship between sensory neurons in the lung and the immune system, and how this interaction can lead to the development of pulmonary fibrosis. In earlier work, Carlos and his supervisor, Dr. Bryan Yipp, developed a model for lung fibrosis that effectively mimics the human disease. Using this model, Carlos aims to explain how lower levels of a specific receptor on a neuron, and how the types of white blood cells in the lung, increases mortality. Carlos’ research is timely, given that a significant proportion of pulmonary fibrosis results from viral infections like COVID and influenza.

Dr. Gillian Goobie’s post-doctoral fellowship at the University of British Columbia will look at the epigenetic effects of air pollution affecting outcomes in patients with fibrotic interstitial lung disease (fILD). Dr. Goobie’s project builds on her expertise in satellite-derived air pollution data and will use specimens collected in Canada as part of Dr. Ryerson’s Canadian Registry for Pulmonary Fibrosis (CARE-PF) consortium and in the United States with Dr. Zhang’s cohort at the Simmons Center ILD Registry to identify genetic changes due to air pollution exposure. Dr. Goobie’s return to Canada helps to create new expertise on the development and management of ILD, build an international collaboration on demographics and health effects of air quality, and advocate for evidence-based policies on air quality.

Dr. Shirley Quach is a respiratory therapist pursuing a PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences at McMaster University under the supervision of Dr. Dina Brooks. Her project will create a searchable library of vetted COPD apps to help patients identify those apps which best suit their needs and help manage their symptoms. Dr Quach and a team of healthcare providers and patients will evaluate existing COPD apps for the quality and accuracy of medical information, features, and resources that best suit patient needs. By creating this library, COPD patients will be better informed about managing their disease.