Impacting careers, impacting patient care

 

Thank you for all you do to champion lung health. Your donation supports projects, such as grant funding, which are boosting patient outcomes, improving community health, and advancing the research that continues to enhance the journey for those facing pulmonary illnesses. Each year, your generosity funds more than $550,000 in clinical research and community service grants, allowing CHEST members to develop and implement their ideas through securing preliminary data support, distinguishing themselves among their colleagues, and advancing chest medicine toward medical breakthroughs.

One such story of the advancements being made in communities around the world begins in New York City.

Kids in urban settings are disproportionately affected by asthma. Although we know that being active is good for respiratory health, in an urban setting, children may be breathing in more pollutants. In inner city neighborhoods playgrounds are often next to major highways or industrial areas. These recreational areas may be increasing the risk of developing pulmonary diseases. This is a prime example of why researchers like Dr. Stephanie Lovinsky-Desir are working to find a solution to champion lunch health.

Dr. Lovinsky-Desir is a pediatric pulmonologist based at Columbia University and the recipient of the CHEST Diversity and Young Investigator Award in 2014 for her project on Urban Tree Canopy Exposure, DNA Methylation, and Allergies in Pediatric Asthma. The grant helped launch her into the research that she is most passionate about – asthma and health disparities in urban populations.

As Stephanie can attest, junior faculty often struggle to find funding for their research, especially when focusing on disparities, diversity, and socioeconomic factors that affect public health. “A lot of people can’t take the risk to pursue higher-risk careers like research, because they don’t have seed funding that allows them to dive into bigger awards or research grants.”

She made it her mission to find funding at the beginning of her research, so she could establish her reputation as a researcher and continue to receive further funding. Her plan began to fall into place when she applied for, and won, the CHEST Diversity and Young Investigator Award. Dr. Lovinsky believes the CHEST Foundation grant is what launched her research. “Much of my success in getting grant funding is because I was awarded grants in the past! Once you start getting them and conducting research that produces meaningful results, you keep getting more, and it really starts to snowball. The CHEST Foundation award was the first award I as a Principal Investigator —my idea, my metrics. I feel so proud to have accomplished this.”

The findings she concluded from her CHEST diversity grant research allowed her to modify her study and receive the following awards: an award through her institution, the National Institute of Health KL2 award, and multiple awards including an NIH K01, a children’s scholar award, and the Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Award. Stephanie is excited for her future research after recently receiving a very competitive score from her NIHK. She believes the CHEST Foundation award jump started her research career, and these other successes have resulted from it. “It’s more than a research project. We are building a research program.” Her current research involves exploring epigenetic mechanisms, particularly DNA methylation, in pediatric and adult allergic asthmatics, as well as understanding the effects of environmental pollutants on asthma, activity, and obesity.

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