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James Chalmers awarded Professorship and grant to fund bronchiectasis research


Respiratory researcher James Chalmers has been awarded the title of Professor and a £422,440 grant to conduct ground-breaking research into a common but neglected lung disease at the University of Dundee.

The prestigious award was granted by the British Lung Foundation (BLF) and jointly funded by GSK and the University, which will become a leading centre in tackling bronchiectasis, a common lung disease that can develop when the airways become damaged.

Bronchiectasis causes cough and a build-up of mucus which leads to frequent chest infections. It is a long-term condition affecting over 200,000 people in the UK alone, and those numbers are rising – over the past 10 years the number of people with bronchiectasis has increased by 40 per cent. Despite this, bronchiectasis has been described as one of the most neglected diseases in respiratory medicine, with few treatments that have been proven to work.

Dundee will now become the home of world-leading research, through a team led by Professor Chalmers, working to tackle this problem by developing tests that will help find the right treatment for the right patient, known as personalised medicine.

The five-year project will see Professor Chalmers lead a team using state-of-the-art laboratory techniques to understand the different patterns of lung inflammation and infection in bronchiectasis patients. The team will work closely with other world-leading researchers in the EMBARC European Bronchiectasis Registry, a pan-European network committed to promoting clinical research and education in bronchiectasis.

This study will be the largest and most detailed of its kind ever performed in bronchiectasis and will make a major contribution to improving our understanding of this disease and ultimately lead to better treatments for patients.

Professor Chalmers said, “We urgently need to develop new treatments for people with bronchiectasis, but we also need to target existing treatments better. There are many drugs already available which could improve lives but which aren’t being used in the right patients. This research aims to develop the tests we need to give the right drug to the right patient at the right time.

“I’m honoured to have been awarded the GSK/BLF Chair in Respiratory Research. Not only will this have a transformative impact on my career, but will help me to achieve my vision of improving the management and treatment of bronchiectasis, for all the people living with this disease.”

Ian Jarrold, Head of Research at the British Lung Foundation, said, “Personalised medicine is good for patients and is good for doctors, allowing better treatment outcomes and reduced healthcare costs by avoiding use of drugs that won’t benefit people living with this disease. 

“This award recognises Professor Chalmers as an outstanding and internationally recognised leader of lung research. We look forward to seeing him develop and train the next generation of breakthrough lung researchers – for everyone who has and will be given a diagnosis of bronchiectasis.”

Professor Gary Mires, Dean of School of Medicine at Dundee, said, “James is an outstanding clinical researcher with a strong background in laboratory research and has already made significant contributions to understanding keys areas of respiratory medicine. I am delighted therefore that he has been awarded the GSK/BLF Chair in Respiratory Research in recognition of his contribution and future leadership in this field.”