Lung disease is a significant worldwide health problem. In the United States alone, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the fourth leading cause of death, and interstitial lung disease, or ILD, kills approximately 400,000 Americans every year. With few effective treatment options available to sufferers, our nation desperately needs better ways to diagnose and treat these and other chronic lung diseases.
Thanks to technological advances made in molecular biology and genetics, scientists can now investigate the genetic basis for many human diseases, including lung disease, by examining the entirety of the DNA found in each of the body’s cells—what we call the human genome. The scale on which this genomic data is being generated is vast. Understanding what it’s telling us about disease is critical and requires expertise in data collection, management, analysis, and interpretation.
The LGRC (Lung Genomics Research Consortium) was formed to apply these skills and other expertise, along with the latest genomic technologies, toward advancing lung disease research. The LGRC represents a large, interdisciplinary team of scientists, each recognized as a leader in his or her field. Their complementary skills afford the LGRC team as a whole a unique synergy that is promoting scientific discovery on a level unachievable by a single researcher.
Our research includes both the study of gene mutations that might predispose people to developing lung disease and the search for changes in the structure of DNA that might improperly activate genes and thus also lead to disease. Most important, perhaps, is our focus on integrating different types of data in ways that can provide us with a better idea of what goes wrong in lung cells to cause diseases like COPD and ILD, including pulmonary fibrosis, a deadly form of ILD that kills tens of thousands of Americans annually and whose incidence is rising. The catalog of information we're building will empower scientists to make tremendous gains in the prediction, diagnosis, and treatment of lung disease.
In addition to our roster of eminent scientists, we are fortunate to be part of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s broader efforts in combating lung disease and to benefit from our partnerships with both the Lung Tissue Research Consortium (LTRC) and the patients who have consented to provide the LTRC with lung tissue samples and associated clinical data.