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Skaar receives American Asthma Foundation award

Aug. 6, 2015, 9:21 AM

Eric Skaar, Ph.D., MPH, the Ernest W. Goodpasture Professor of Pathology, has received a Scholar Award from the American Asthma Foundation (AAF).

Eric Skaar, Ph.D., MPH

AAF Scholar Awards provide up to $450,000 over three years to support research that may reveal new pathways in the pathogenesis of asthma.

Asthma — a chronic lung disease that causes inflammation and narrowing of the airways — affects more than 25 million people in the United States. There has been little progress in improving treatment, understanding the causes, preventing and finding a cure for asthma, according to the AAF.

The AAF Scholar Awards aim to recruit scientists from outside of the field of asthma to initiate research programs focused on asthma, said Skaar, who directs the Program in Microbial Pathogenesis and the Division of Host-Pathogen Interactions, both in the Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology.

Skaar and his team will study the impact of the nutrient zinc on the pathogenesis of asthma.

“There’s a strong link between dietary zinc fluctuations and the incidence of asthma,” he explained.

“My laboratory has had a long interest in the impact of nutrition on lung infection and inflammation, so it seemed like a natural progression for us to begin to look at the impact of nutrition on asthma,” Skaar said.

Skaar and his team have focused on diseases caused by important human pathogens including Staphylococcus aureus (staph infections), Bacillus anthracis (anthrax), Acinetobacter baumannii (hospital and battlefield wound infections) and Clostridium difficile (colitis). The group studies interactions between hosts and pathogens, with the long-term goal of developing novel therapies to treat microbial diseases.

Skaar received one of seven 2015 AAF Scholar Awards from a pool of 138 applicants.

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