University of Leicester to become world leading centre tackling incurable lung diseases

Posted by pt91 at Aug 17, 2017 03:16 PM |
British Lung Foundation, GSK and University of Leicester spearhead genomic studies with aim of paving the way for developing ‘personalised medicines’

Issued by British Lung Foundation on 17 August 2017

Leicester researcher, Dr Louise Wain, was awarded the honourable title of Professor and a £400,000 grant to conduct ground-breaking research at the University of Leicester, by the British Lung Foundation. The prestigious award, jointly funded by the university, the British Lung Foundation, and GSK will establish Leicester as a leading genomics research centre taking on two incurable lung conditions - chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).

IPF and COPD leave the people affected constantly out of breath. As it becomes more severe, just getting out of bed or getting dressed in the morning is a marathon. Living with IPF means continuously developing scars on the lungs, and having an average life expectancy after diagnosis of just 3-5 years. COPD, causes narrowed airways. This long-term condition often leaves people affected with a greatly reduced quality of life.

Though relatively unheard of, if IPF were a cancer, it would be the 8th biggest cancer affecting people world-wide.[i] In the UK alone, IPF is responsible for 1 in every 100 deaths.[ii]

COPD affects 1.2 million people in the UK, and people in Leicester are 16% more likely to die from this condition than the England, Scotland and Wales average.[iii]

Leicester will now become the home of world-leading research looking into genes to tackle these conditions, which currently lack effective treatments despite their huge impact on patients and families. The team will be led by Professor Wain, of the University of Leicester’s Department of Health Sciences in the College of Medicine, Biological Sciences & Psychology.

She will work with researchers from across the world, using powerful new genetic studies and data collection, to explain why some people develop these diseases but others do not, and why people with the same disease have different symptoms.

Ultimately, this genetic information will help us predict who is at risk of disease and how the disease will progress and, crucially, enable doctors to prescribe ‘personalised medicine’ for the individual patient. Something that has already led to huge improvements in the treatment of many cancers.

The work will form an integral part of the Leicester Precision Medicine Institute that unites the research expertise and facilities of the University of Leicester and University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust with industry to provide new discoveries and medical innovations that impact on the healthcare of its ethnically diverse population.

Ian Jarrold, Head of Research at the British Lung Foundation, said:

“We want to see research that will pioneer new treatments and improve the poor outcomes for people with IPF and COPD. Research like this is expensive, it costs millions of pounds, but is the only thing that can offer people living with these diseases and their families more hope for the future. Donations to the BLF have meant that we can support talented scientists like Professor Wain.

“This Professorship recognises her as an outstanding and internationally recognised leader in her field. We look forward to seeing her develop and train the next generation of breakthrough lung researchers – for everyone who has and will be given the devastating diagnosis of lung disease.”

Professor Louise Wain said:

“I am delighted and honoured to be awarded this Chair which will allow us to orientate our excellence in genomics to tackling some of the most challenging respiratory diseases. We are now in an exciting era of genomic-driven advances in clinical care. New national resources such as UK Biobank and The 100,000 Genomes Project, alongside local resources in Leicester, such as the NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre, provide exciting new opportunities for research. This British Lung Foundation award will support my team and I to take full advantage of those opportunities and drive forward research that will lead to new treatments and improvements in care for people living with lung disease.”

Professor Philip Baker, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Medicine, Biological Sciences and Psychology, and Dean of Medicine, said:

“We are delighted that Professor Wain’s remarkable talent and her high calibre portfolio of research have been recognised by this award from the British Lung Foundation.  Research into respiratory disease is a major strength at Leicester and the award strengthens the evolving partnership between the British Lung Foundation and the University - an exciting partnership that is sure to bring tremendous benefit to patients with lung disease.”

- Ends -

Notes to editors

For more information, please contact the British Lung Foundation press office on / 020 7688 5580.

About the British Lung Foundation

The British Lung Foundation is the only UK charity fighting to help the 1 in 5 people in the UK affected by lung disease, by researching new treatments, campaigning for better awareness and services, and providing support and advice for patients, carers and family members. For further information, please visit For help and support, call the BLF Helpline on 03000 030 555. To donate £5 to help the BLF fight lung disease, please text LUNGS to 70500.

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About the University of Leicester

The University of Leicester is led by discovery and innovation – an international centre for excellence renowned for research, teaching and broadening access to higher education. It is among the top 25 universities in the Times Higher Education REF Research Power rankings with 75% of research adjudged to be internationally excellent with wide-ranging impacts on society, health, culture, and the environment.

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About he NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre

The NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre is funded by the NIHR. The BRC undertakes translational clinical research in priority areas of high disease burden and clinical need. It harnesses the power of experimental science to explore and develop ways to help prevent and treat chronic disease. The BRC will bring together 70 highly skilled researchers, 30 of these are at the forefront of clinical services delivery. It is thought that scientists working closely with clinicians will allow the BRC to deliver research that is relevant to patients and the professionals who treat them.

About University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust (UHL)

University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust (UHL) is one of the UK’s biggest and busiest hospitals, particularly recognised for high-quality research in cardiovascular, respiratory and diabetes. Together with the University of Leicester and Loughborough University, UHL successfully applied to be a Biomedical Research Centre (BRC), focused on very important disease areas, including cardiovascular disease, the largest single cause of death (500,000 people in the UK have heart failure), respiratory disease including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (this will be the world’s third highest cause of death by 2030) and lifestyle specifically focussed on increasing physical activity to prevent and manage lifestyle-related chronic diseases, like type 2 diabetes.

[i] Chronic respiratory diseases: World Health Organisation - Burden of COPD, World Health Organisation (WHO),

[ii] Battle for Breath - the impact of lung disease in the UK, British Lung Foundation,

[iii] Battle for Breath - the impact of lung disease in the UK, British Lung Foundation, These are “relative risks” that measure the risk in a certain area relative to “England Scotland and Wales”. The data are adjusted for age – i.e. the age distribution in each area has been taken into account in the calculation of the figures. This means that the differences seen in admission and mortality risks are not simply because of differences in the age distribution between areas.

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