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Asthma research receives million dollar donation

The Centre for Allergy Research at Karolinska Institutet has received a donation of one million US dollars for research into severe asthma. The donation was made by the Sandler Foundation in USA.

The donation will be used for the development of a new research programme: The Bernard Osher Initiative for Research on Severe Asthma at Karolinska Institutet. The aims of the research programme are to increase understanding of mechanisms that cause the most severe forms of asthma and thereby improve diagnosis and identify new targets for treatment.

“Difficult-to-treat asthma is currently the major unmet need in asthma care,” says Professor Sven-Erik Dahlén, head of the Centre for Allergy Research at Karolinska Institutet. “These patients have a greater risk of developing a wide range of complications, and the underlying causes remain at large. It is clear that there are many different clinical forms of severe asthma and there is a requirement for true translational research to move this field forward.”

At least five postdoc appointments will be announced internationally, the plan being for the research programme to start is January 2009. The Bernard Osher Initiative for Research on Severe Asthma at Karolinska Institutet is unique in several respects, including in its extensive financing and its explicit strategy to involve also researchers currently active in fields other than asthma.

“The research will be based on existing competence in clinical research into serious adult and childhood asthma,” says Professor Dahlén. “From this platform, we’ll then build bridges to new relevant fields of research, such as infection medicine, biomarkers and molecular genetics.”

Marion Sandler, an asthma sufferer herself, gave the donation as a gift to her brother Bernard Osher on his 80th birthday. Bernard Osher and his wife Barbro have previously contributed some 7.8 million US dollars to the building of the Osher Centre for Integrative Medicine at Karolinska Institutet.

“For its success, the Bernard Osher Initiative for Research on Severe Asthma requires not only excellence in research, but also a leadership being familiar with both clinical and basic science. There are hence few research institutions in the world having the capacity to take on an initiative of this magnitude. Karolinska Institutet is very much one of those,” says Mrs Sandler, president of the Sandler Foundation.

Sabina Bossi | alfa
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