UA’s Dr. Fernando Martinez awarded $4.5 million by NIH


Contact: Lisa Romero ▪ 520.626.2465 October 9, 2012

Tucson, Ariz. – The University of Arizona’s Dr. Fernando Martinez, MD, will continue his groundbreaking asthma research after being awarded $4.5 million for four more years by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to further investigate the childhood origins of adult airway disease. He will lead the Tucson Children’s Respiratory Study, with Anne Wright, PhD, and Stefano Guerra, MD, PhD, as co-principal investigators.

Dr. Martinez, Regents’ Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Arizona (UA) College of Medicine and the Director of the UA’s BIO5 Institute (BIO5), the Arizona Respiratory Center (ARC), and the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), is internationally renowned for his work studying the genetic basis and environmental risk factors for childhood asthma, the most prevalent chronic childhood illness.

The Children's Respiratory Study (CRS) is the first large birth cohort of non-selected children followed into adult life. Over 1,200 infants were enrolled at birth and have been followed for 30-years. It has become clear that the seeds of many adult diseases are sown in childhood. The objective of the new project is to identify infant and childhood predictors of chronic adult asthma, smoking related symptoms, deficits in lung function, and altered airway structure, all of which are associated with risk for development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The early 30’s is a critical age at which its important to assess respiratory health as aging-associated lung function decline begins and the first clinical manifestations of COPD appear. Understanding the childhood origins of adult airway disease will identify novel mechanisms underlying the development of asthma and chronic airflow limitation, and suggest strategies for intervention.

“It’s crucial to better understand the biological causes of the current asthma epidemic in order to develop new approaches to treatment and prevention,” said Dr. Martinez. “This new phase of research will focus on identifying childhood predictors of asthma incidence, remission, and persistence into adult life, which will advance efforts to identify novel strategies for prevention and early intervention in asthma and COPD.”