The Albert Rose Established Investigator Award

Funding the Best and Brightest Pulmonary Fibrosis Scientists 

Created to allow established investigators to explore novel, innovative areas of research, the Albert Rose Established Investigator Award provides critical support to the development of new projects, and enables the investigator to pursue additional funding through the National Institutes of Health or other agencies.

Two $50,000 grants are awarded per annual cycle, disbursed over a two-year period.

2018 recipients

Nabeel Hamzeh, MD
The University of Iowa
Proposal Title: CD4 T-cell immunephenotype in hypersenstivity pneumonitis
This proposal is funded by Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Dr. Hamzeh is an Associate Professor at the University of Iowa in the division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Occupational medicine. He is the director of the interstitial lung disease program. His clinical and research interests focus on granulomatous lung diseases, specifically sarcoidosis and hypersensitivity pneumonitis. His research explores the pathophysiology of sarcoidosis with the goal of introducing novel diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic agents to the clinic. His work focuses on the:
i) role of genetics and epigenetics in sarcoidosis disease activity
ii) diagnosis and management of cardiac sarcoidosis
iii) role of humoral immunity in sarcoidosis pathogenesis and
iv) the immune response in hypersensitivity pneumonitis.

2017 recipients

Cecilia Gonzalez Sanchez, PhD
Tulane University Health Sciences Center
"Chaperone-Mediated Autophagy, a Regulator of (Myo)fibroblast Activation and Pulmonary Fibrosis"

Dr. Sanchez is an assistant professor at the Tulane School of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary Diseases. Her laboratory focuses on understanding the mechanisms of signal transduction (cell signaling), autophagy (the degradation and recycling of cellular components), and epigenetic regulation in fibrogenesis (the development of fibers). Her goal is to develop new therapeutic paradigms for chronic fibrotic disorders, including idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).
Dr. Sanchez has relinquished her award as she is moving into industry. The PFF is currently evaluating other projects for funding.

Steve M. Albelda, MD
The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania
"Use of T cells Directed to Fibroblast Activation Protein to Treat Pulmonary Fibrosis"
Funded by a grant from Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Dr. Albelda is the William Maul Measey Professor of Medicine, Associate Director of the Pulmonary Division, Director of the Thoracic Oncology Research Laboratory, and co-director of the Translational Center of Excellence for Lung Cancer at Penn.

Despite the recent approval of perfenidone and nintedanib to slow the progression of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), there is no way to reverse the established scarring (fibrosis). A key factor in IPF is production of excess scar tissue by a cell type known as fibroblasts, which normally function in wound healing. Dr. Albelda’s team proposes to use a new technology that they developed for the treatment of cancer that can genetically redirect blood cells (lymphocytes) to attack “scar-producing” activated fibroblasts in the fibrotic lung. The research team will test this approach in three mouse models of lung fibrosis. If successful and safe, this study will pave the way toward clinical trials that could change the treatment paradigm for IPF and potentially reverse lung scarring and improve lung function.

2016 recipients

Jerry Yu, MD, PhD
University of Louisville Research Foundation, Inc.
”The vagus nerve in pulmonary fibrosis”
Funded by a grant from Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Dr. Yu was recently awarded a larger research grant from the VA to continue his work in pulmonary fibrosis. Effective 10/1/17, Dr. Yu has relinquished this award to further this important research.

Dr. Jerry Yu is a Professor of Medicine and a senior member of the Graduate School at the University of Louisville. He received his medical training at Shanghai First Medical College and his Ph.D. degree from the University of California, San Francisco. He pursued further research training in the Department of Physiology at the University of Louisville, in the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, and then in Pulmonary Medicine at the University of Manitoba, Canada. He became an Assistant Professor at the University of Louisville in the Department of Medicine in 1994 and was promoted to tenured Full Professorship in 2007. His research projects have been supported by the National Institutes of Health, the American Lung Association, the American Heart Association, and VA Merit Review grants. Dr. Jerry Yu’s research interests center around neural control of the cardiopulmonary system. Currently, his research goal is to identify the roles of neuro-immune interaction in lung diseases and explore neural regulatory mechanisms in lung injury, repair and regeneration.

Guoying Yu, PhD
Yale University
“Thyroid hormone as a novel therapeutic agent in lung fibrosis”

Dr. Guoying Yu got his BS, MS and PhD in the Henan Normal University, Yunnan University, and The Chinese Academy of Sciences in the Peoples' Republic of China respectively. He joined Dr. Kaminski' research group in 2006 in University of Pittsburgh and completed his research fellow training on pulmonary and moved to Yale in 2013. Dr. Yu has undertaken basic and translational investigations into idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a progressive, scarring of the alveolar parenchyma that ultimately leads to respiratory failure and death, charactering by the epithelial cell injury and unremitting accumulation of fibroblasts with unknown etiology without effective therapy. To gain insight into the pathogenesis of IPF, based on gene expression profiling of IPF lungs compared to normal controls, we focus on the genes that exhibited altered expression in IPF under the rationale that genes likely contribute to the development of pulmonary fibrosis. Currently I’m focusing on exploring the role and regulation of MMP19, miR-29 and thyroid hormone in human pulmonary fibrosis. We first investigated the role of thyroid hormone in pulmonary fibrosis and demonstrated that aerosolized TH delivery reversed bleomycin-induced fibrosis through restoration of AECs’ mitochondrial homeostasis and may represent an effective therapeutic strategy for patients with IPF.

2015 recipients

Tracy Luckhardt, MD, MS
University of Alabama, Birmingham
“Frailty as an Outcome Measure in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis"

Funded by a grant from Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Dr. Luckhardt is an assistant professor in the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).  She received her Bachelor of Science in microbiology at Louisiana State University in 1996 and her Medical Doctorate from Louisiana State University School of Medicine at Shreveport in 2000.  She completed her internal medicine training at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics where she was also chief medical resident.  She trained in pulmonary and critical care medicine at the University of Michigan Health Systems.  She also received her master’s degree in biostatistics and clinical research design from the University of Michigan School of Public Health.  She has been on the faculty at UAB since 2009.  Dr. Luckhardt’s research and clinical interests are in interstitial lung disease, particularly idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and connective tissue related-interstitial lung disease.  She is the director of clinical research at UAB and has been prinicipal investigator of multiple Phase II clinical trials.  Dr. Luckhardt has also investigated the role of herpes virus infections in the pathogenesis of pulmonary fibrosis, and has collaborated with multiple groups investigating the pathogenesis and new therapeutics in pulmonary fibrosis.


Hon Yuen, PhD, MS

University of Alabama, Birmingham
“Home-Based Pulmonary Rehab for Patients with Pulmonary Fibrosis"

Dr. Yuen received his education in occupational therapy at the University of Queensland, Australia. His doctoral training at the University of Florida focused on the area of research, evaluation, and measurement methodology. He has consistently received National Institute of Health funding on grant projects, as well as foundation grants between 2002 and 2012. His research interests in the area of physical rehabilitation include strategies to improve physical activity adherence through therapeutic modification of the physical and psychosocial environments, and the use of interactive health video games. This includes delivering and evaluating exercise interventions using the Nintendo Wii Fit Plus in persons with chronic diseases. He has several publications on incorporating game activities as an incentive to improve motivation and adherence to home-based exercise for these populations. The Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation Established Investigator Award will help facilitate Dr. Yuen’s work on his long-term career goals of studying the impact of home-based exercise, especially using exergames to improve physical fitness, and alleviating fatigue among people with chronic health conditions.

2014 recipients

Stijn De Langhe, PhD
National Jewish Health
"Role of Wnt and FGF Signaling in Alveolar Epithelial Regeneration After Bleomycin Injury"

Dr. De Langhe is an Associate professor at National Jewish Health in Denver Colorado. He received his PhD in 2005 for his work on lung developmental biology under Dr. Saverio Bellusci. In 2007 he started his own lab at National Jewish Health. During this time his laboratory has focused on lung stem cell biology, lung development and regeneration after injury. His inquiries into the molecular mechanisms of lung development serve as a framework within which he seeks to identify ways to regenerate lungs that are suffering from devastating lung diseases such as pulmonary fibrosis. Dr. De Langhe's work has demonstrated that adult lung stem cells hijack the pathways important for lung development to respond to injury. However, his work has also shown that when deregulated these pathways can also drive disease progression. This latter process is very well documented in cancer and Dr. De Langhe will use the funds associated with the Albert Rose Established Investigator Award to study how these processes affect the progression of pulmonary fibrosis.


Brian Zabel, PhD              
Palo Alto Veterans Institute for Research
"Role of Chemerin and its Receptors in TGF-beta-induced Experimental Pulmonary Fibrosis"

Funded by a grant from Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Dr. Zabel is a Senior Research Scientist at the Palo Alto Veterans Institute for Research. Dr. Zabel received BS degrees in Biology and Mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1997 and a PhD in Immunology from Stanford University in 2004. His PhD thesis and postdoctoral work focused on the identification and characterization of novel white blood cell attractant chemerin and its receptors in homeostasis and inflammatory disease. Most recently, his laboratory, which is funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense, has focused on understanding the potential protective role of white blood cells in experimental models of pulmonary fibrosis. Dr. Zabel is particularly interested in translational medicine, a pursuit fostered by the SPARK program (Stanford University) and various biotech industry interactions (LeukoSite, Inc., ChemoCentryx, Inc., CombImmune, Inc., and LakePharma, Inc.). Dr. Zabel holds seven patents, has published more than 35 peer-reviewed research papers, review articles, and book chapters, and is a recipient of the Hugh McDevitt Prize (2004). He is Chair of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System. He is married to Janet Zabel and they have one daughter, Madison (5).

2013 recipients

Michael F. Beers, MD
University of Pennsylvania
"Modeling of Epithelial Cell Dysfunction in Pulmonary Fibrosis Using SP-C BRICHOS Mutations"

Funded by a grant from Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Dr. Michael F. Beers holds a joint appointment as Professor of Medicine in the Pulmonary and Critical Care Division and Senior Investigator at the Institute for Environmental Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Since joining the University faculty in 1992, he has pursued an academic career as a physician-scientist with a research program centered in basic and translational investigations in lung epithelial cell biology and surfactant biochemistry in health and disease.

Most recently, his laboratory, which is funded by both the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Veterans Affairs has focused on understanding the contribution of the alveolar epithelia to the pathogenesis of pulmonary fibrosis. Using a variety of models including primary lung epithelial cells, mammalian cell lines, Drosophila melanogaster (the common fruit fly), transgenic mice, and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis patients with mutations in two surfactant genes (SP-C and ABCA3), his lab has identified important roles for endoplasmic reticulum stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, intrinsic apoptosis, and cellular proteostasis (autophagy and ER associated degradation) in the disease process. In addition to his research and clinical activities, Dr. Beers serves as Associate Director for Basic and Translational Pulmonary Research Training at the University and is past Associate Editor of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.


Mauricio Rojas, MD
University of Pittsburgh
“Senescent Stem Cells Increases Susceptibility to Pulmonary Fibrosis”

Dr. Rojas completed his undergraduate and medical education at the National University of Colombia in 1987, and continued his education in Immunology at the National Institute of Immunology in Colombia from 1987 to 1991. He was a Research Associate at the same institution and became the Scientific Director of the Vaccine Clinical Trials in 1992. Dr. Rojas joined the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Vanderbilt University in 1994. He was a visiting scientist and a post-doctoral fellow when he developed a novel system to cell permeabilize proteins denominated MTS (membrane translocating sequence) that was patented worldwide by Vanderbilt University.

In 2002, Dr. Rojas served as a junior faculty member at the Center for Translational Research in the Lung Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care at Emory University.  While there he developed an independent scientific career by studying the role of bone marrow derived mesenchymal stem cells in lung injury and repair. His work resulted in seminal contributions in understanding the immunomodulatory mechanisms used by the mesenchymal stem cells. His work has been internationally recognized and supported by several grant awards from the National Institutes of Health, the American Federation of Aging, and other institutional grants.

Since 2010, Dr. Rojas has become an Assistant Professor, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh; a Faculty Member at the McGowan Institute, University of Pittsburgh; and a faculty member of the Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research Center at The University of Pittsburgh.

2012 recipients

James S. Hagood, MD
University of California, San Diego
"Extracellular Vesicles Alter Cell Phenotype in Pulmonary Fibrosis"
Dr. James Hagood is a pediatric pulmonologist and Chief of the Division of Pediatric Respiratory Medicine at the University of California San Diego and the Rady Children’s Hospital of San Diego. Dr. Hagood’s lab has studied pulmonary fibrosis for nearly twenty years with a focus on mechanisms by which fibroblasts, the cells responsible for the formation of scar tissue, become abnormally activated. His lab has showed that Thy-1, a natural fibrosis suppressor gene, gets silenced in fibrotic fibroblasts. Dr. Hagood’s lab was the first to describe epigenetic alterations (acquired changes that can be inherited but don’t alter DNA sequences) in pulmonary fibrosis. More recently, the lab has begun to focus on new targeted treatments for pulmonary fibrosis and to explore the role of microvesicles (tiny particles that can transfer information between cells) in fibrosis. In his clinical work, Dr. Hagood’s main focus is on diffuse and interstitial lung diseases in children, which are much rarer than those in adults, but may hold biological clues for understanding more common forms of pulmonary fibrosis. Dr. Hagood enjoys food, culture, and, of course, the beach with his family in San Diego.
Glenn Rosen, MD 
Stanford University
"Analysis of Novel Functions of Human Telomerase RNA in IPF"
Dr. Rosen has been on the faculty of the Stanford University School of Medicine since 1993. He is presently an Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine. Dr. Rosen’s laboratory research focuses on translational studies in pulmonary fibrosis; specifically, his laboratory studies mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of pulmonary fibrosis, and then applies the application of these discoveries to the development of novel treatments for fibrotic lung disease. Recent work in his laboratory has revealed novel functions of telomerase in pulmonary fibrosis and additional studies are focused on the genetics of pulmonary fibrosis. He has published broadly, he is active in clinical trials in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and works with biotechnology companies in the development of novel anti-fibrotic therapeutics. Dr. Rosen is the Clinical Director of the Stanford Interstitial Lung Disease Program at the Center for Advanced Lung Disease. Dr. Rosen’s active clinical and research program in interstitial lung disease gives him insight into how to apply basic research discoveries to help patients with advanced lung disease.


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