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For Immediate Release: May 1, 2012

NHLBI Communications Office
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NIAID Office of Communications
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NIEHS Office of Communications
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NICHD Office of Communications
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For Immediate Release: May 1, 2012

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World Asthma Day 2012

May 1, 2012

Statement of Susan B. Shurin, M.D., Acting Director, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; 
Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; 
Linda S. Birnbaum, Ph.D., D.A.B.T., A.T.S., Director, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences; 
Alan E. Guttmacher, M.D., Director, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

On World Asthma Day 2012, we at the National Institutes of Health stand together with the international community to renew our dedication to improving quality of life for the millions of people living with asthma.

Asthma is a significant public health burden that affects over 230 million people worldwide, including more than 25 million in the United States. Currently, there is no way to prevent or cure asthma. Existing treatments focus on controlling disease symptoms, which include wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and coughing. Despite advances in therapy, more than half of children and one-third of adults with asthma in the United States miss school or work because of attacks.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI); the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID); the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS); and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) are the lead NIH institutes supporting basic and clinical research to understand the causes of asthma and the factors that contribute to its progression. Each of our institutes supports different aspects of asthma research, but we all work together to inform the development of effective strategies for the prevention and treatment of asthma.

In March 2012, NHLBI, NIAID, NIEHS, and NICHD, in conjunction with the Merck Childhood Asthma Network, Inc. and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, published a report that for the first time promotes standardization across asthma clinical studies. The Asthma Outcomes in Clinical Research: Report of the Asthma Outcomes Workshop, establishes common measures and data-collection methods to enable researchers to compare their results. This standardization promises to enhance asthma clinical research and perhaps even lead to improvements in the quality of asthma care.

Last year, in August 2011, the NIH held a workshop on “The Early Life Origins of Asthma: Strategies for Primary Prevention.” Because asthma typically begins early in childhood, the goal of the workshop was to identify factors, such as environmental exposures, genetics, or events that occur in pregnancy and early infancy, that may predict a person’s risk for developing asthma.  Participants also worked to identify the most promising interventions for future research.

NHLBI, NHLBI, NIEHS, and NICHD remain committed to working with individuals, families, and healthcare professionals to reduce the worldwide burden of asthma. We commend the NIH-supported investigators who continue to make significant progress in asthma research, and we express our gratitude to the people who have participated in NIH-sponsored asthma research studies, as well as to the nongovernmental organizations that provide support for those affected by asthma.

The NHLBI supports both a broad asthma research portfolio--including studies on risk factors, mechanisms that influence disease severity, and identifying new therapies--and the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program that is dedicated to translating research into improved clinical practice and quality of life for asthma patients.  As the lead allergy and immunology institute at NIH, NIAID supports researchers who are unraveling the role of the immune system in the development of asthma, and evaluating new approaches to treatment and prevention of the disease. NIEHS, the institute focused on the impact of environmental factors on human health, supports research to understand how exposures to environmental agents trigger asthma, and how we can better prevent, diagnose and treat such exposures. NICHD conducts and supports research on all stages of human development, including research directed to those early life stages when chronic diseases such as asthma might be prevented.

Susan B. Shurin, M.D., is Acting Director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., is Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

Linda S. Birnbaum, Ph.D., D.A.B.T., A.T.S., is Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences at the National Institutes of Health in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.

Alan E. Guttmacher, M.D., is Director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

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Living With and Managing Asthma


Part of the National Institutes of Health, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) plans, conducts, and supports research related to the causes, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of heart, blood vessel, lung, and blood diseases; and sleep disorders.  The Institute also administers national health education campaigns on women and heart disease, healthy weight for children, and other topics.  NHLBI press releases and other materials are available online at www.nhlbi.nih.gov.

NIAID conducts and supports research—at NIH, throughout the United States, and worldwide—to study the causes of infectious and immune-mediated diseases, and to develop better means of preventing, diagnosing and treating these illnesses. News releases, fact sheets and other NIAID-related materials are available on the NIAID Web site at http://www.niaid.nih.gov.

The NIEHS supports research to understand the effects of the environment on human health and is part of NIH. For more information on environmental health topics, visit www.niehs.nih.gov. Subscribe to one or more of the NIEHS news lists (http://www.niehs.nih.gov/news/releases/newslist/index.cfm) to stay current on NIEHS news, press releases, grant opportunities, training, events, and publications.

About the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD): The NICHD sponsors research on development, before and after birth; maternal, child, and family health; reproductive biology and population issues; and medical rehabilitation.  For more information, visit the Institute’s Web site at http://www.nichd.nih.gov. NICHD support was provided through the Best Pharmaceuticals for Children Act program, which seeks to improve pediatric therapeutics through preclinical and clinical drug trials that lead to drug labeling changes.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

NIH...Turning Discovery Into Health

For the Media

NHLBI Communications Office
nhlbi_news@nhlbi.nih.gov
301-496-4236
Ask for press officer on duty

NIAID Office of Communications
niaidnews@niaid.nih.gov
301-402-1663

NIEHS Office of Communications
rmackar@niehs.nih.gov
919-541-0073

NICHD Office of Communications
bockr@mail.nih.gov
301-496-5133

Related Health Topics

Asthma

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