Thomas Jefferson University Release: Tliba Receives Significant R01 Grant Award for Airway Research to Benefit Asthmatics

Published: Apr 10, 2012

PHILADELPHIA -- Thomas Jefferson University announces Jefferson School of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences assistant professor Omar Tliba, Ph.D. has received a five-year, $1.2 million Research Project Grant (R01) from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This novel research program Airway Inflammatory Pathways Regulating Glucocorticoid Receptor Phosphorylation, will investigate the mechanisms by which inflammatory cytokines—crucial for immune responses towards infection and inflammation—alter airway smooth muscle (ASM) responsiveness to anti-asthma drugs mainly in severe asthmatics.

Because ASM plays a fundamental role in driving the excessive airway obstruction and inflammation seen in severe asthma, failure of ASM to properly respond to drug therapy results in serious consequences for asthmatic patients. Although the role of immune cells in promoting insensitivity to glucocorticoid (GC) therapy has been extensively investigated, relatively little has been done to clarify the role of ASM cells.

Over the next five years, this program will systematically investigate the mechanisms by which inflammatory cytokines control ASM sensitivity to GCs. The long-term goal is to define the molecular mechanisms facilitating inflammation associated GC insensitivity in clinically relevant non-immune lung cells such as ASM cells. The hope is to identify novel targets to restore steroid responsiveness in severe asthmatics.

As Primary Investigator, Tliba will lead a team of up to 5 scientists in the project. He notes “This research will enable us to look deeply into these signaling molecules, specifically those in the airway cells. By advancing our understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms that contribute to the development of steroid insensitivity in airway cells, we will ultimately be able to knock-out lung-specific target genes responsible to for the attenuated steroid responsiveness in severe asthmatics.”

This is Tliba’s first R01 grant and it was accepted upon its first submission to the NIH. Tliba has received prior grants for the American Lung Association, Parker B. Francis Foundation, NIH career development award (K99/R00), and TJU medical college Intramural Pilot Research Award.

About Thomas Jefferson University

Thomas Jefferson University, (TJU), the largest freestanding academic medical center in Philadelphia, is nationally renowned for medical and health sciences education and innovative research. Founded in 1824, TJU includes Jefferson Medical College (JMC), and the Jefferson Schools of Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions, and Population Health. Jefferson University Physicians is TJU's multi-specialty physician practice consisting of the full-time faculty of JMC. Thomas Jefferson University partners with its clinical affiliate, Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals.

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