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Behind the bench... with Dr. Monica Kraft, Duke University
Gary H. Gibbons, M.D. - October 28, 2013
From Health Disparities in Asthma to the Microbiome, Clinician-Scientist Explores the Cutting Edge of Lung Research
Estimates place the number of people worldwide living with asthma at 300 million. In the U.S., one in every 11 children and one in every six African American children has asthma. The prevalence of this condition and its disproportionate impact on minorities and families at or below the poverty line make it a priority research area for the NHLBI, which supports a broad asthma research portfolio and the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program to translate research into improved clinical practice and quality of life.
Asthma research also is a priority for Dr. Monica Kraft, Professor of Medicine, Duke University School of Medicine and Past President, American Thoracic Society (ATS), who recently told me she sees first-hand the incredible health disparities and poorer health outcomes for Durham’s African Americans and Hispanic Latinos suffering from asthma. What she witnesses daily is leading her and her team to begin discussions and research about what types of therapies and interventions change these disparities.
While her team continues to develop that line of inquiry, her current research into the basic immune mechanisms in asthma is leading researchers to embrace the fact that asthma, like many chronic diseases, is not homogenous, but instead driven by a number of different molecular phenotypes. Dr. Kraft and her team also are digging deeper into the remodeling process and the innate immune factors tied to asthma exacerbations. Their work in this space is particularly exciting because it could lead to a novel pathway for therapy in humans, which is the ultimate goal for clinician-scientists.
Dr. Kraft discusses her current and future research agenda into asthma, airway remodeling, inflammation, and health disparities. (12 MB, 12:05) Transcript
Implicating the Microbiome in Asthma
Dr. Kraft talks about the potential role of the microbiome and life exposures in influencing immune tolerance. (6 MB, 5:38) Transcript
Reflections on Mentorship
Dr. Kraft shares her personal story of becoming a clinician-scientist and talks about the role that professional societies can play in fostering the next generation of scientists. (114 MB, 9:58) Transcript
Dr. Kraft shares her thoughts on the most provocative scientific questions and leading edge issues in science. (4 MB, 3:50) Transcript
After spending 30 minutes with Dr. Kraft, one thing is clear: Whether she has the time for a sabbatical to learn more about systems biology or not, our scientific knowledge will continue to advance thanks to her leadership.
* For more on the connection between the microbiome, gut bacteria, and cardiovascular disease, listen to my interview with NHLBI grantee Dr. Stanley Hazen from the Cleveland Clinic.