RECOVERY.GOV

Identifying the cause of infants' lung disease

Hugh O'Brodovich, MDHugh O'Brodovich, MD, will use a $3.5 million grand-opportunity grant to examine a severe form of lung disease in premature infants that can lead to a lifetime of medical difficulties. Some 15,000 preemies each year develop a condition known as bronchopulmonary dysplasia, which may keep them in costly neonatal intensive care units for months.

It's not known why some preemies develop the chronic condition that makes it difficult to breathe; however, some recent research suggests a strong genetic component. O'Brodovich, a pediatric respiratory specialist at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford, and his multidisciplinary team will use the stimulus funding to look for specific genes or pathways associated with the disease. They are working with researchers at the California Department of Public Health, which maintains a large database of blood samples from newborns.

Because many of the infants with the disease have lung problems later in life, the research also could help with developing better therapies for adolescents and adults.

The team hopes the project will lead to better therapies for patients of all ages and reduce the time that sick newborns spend in costly neonatal intensive care units, saving health-care dollars. In addition, the stimulus funding will support four new research positions during the course of the study.