NEWS | July 23, 2018

Oldham receives grant for pulmonary fibrosis biomarkers study


Justin Oldham has been awarded a research grant of $50,000 from the CHEST Foundation to study bloodstream biomarkers in patients with pulmonary fibrosis, a disease characterized by progressive scarring of lower lung tissue.

Justin Oldham Justin Oldham

Oldham, an assistant professor of pulmonary medicine at UC Davis Health, will test whether proteins linked to increased mortality in patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) can predict outcomes for those with other forms of the disease, including chronic hypersensitivity pneumonitis and connective tissue disease-associated interstitial lung disease. He will then determine if those same protein changes occur in IPF patients receiving anti-fibrotic medication.

“Clinical observations have shown that anti-fibrotic medication can slow the progress of pulmonary fibrosis for some but not all patients with IPF,” said Oldham, director of the UC Davis Interstitial Lung Disease Program. “My goal is to characterize the biological effects of antifibrotic therapy in IPF, which may ultimately provide physicians with a biomarker of therapeutic effectiveness.”

As a CHEST grantee, Oldham will be expected to present his research at the organization’s 2019 annual meeting in New Orleans.

At UC Davis Health, a multidisciplinary team of pulmonologists, rheumatologists, radiologists and pathologists collaborate on clinical care and research for pulmonary fibrosis. Causes of the disease are not known, however it has been associated with environmental exposures, tobacco use, autoimmune disease and genetics. The most common symptoms are restricted breathing, coughing and reduced oxygen levels throughout the body. While rare, affecting about 100,000 people in the U.S., incidence is on the rise, making the search for new treatments a growing research priority.

CHEST is a national organization of physicians who prevent, diagnose and treat airway, lung and thoracic diseases, and its foundation supports research that could lead to breakthroughs in patient care. Oldham’s project was funded in partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals and Genentech.