BUSM/BMC Professor, Physician Receives Award for Advancing Research on Tobacco Smoke’s Effect on Lungs

in 2013, Health & Medicine, News Releases, School of Medicine
October 28th, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Oct. 28, 2013

Contact: Jenny Eriksen Leary, 617-638-6841, jenny.eriksen@bmc.org

(Boston) – Avrum Spira, MD, MSc, the Alexander Graham Bell professor of medicine and chief of the division of computational biomedicine at Boston University School of Medicine, is the recipient of the Alton Ochsner Award Relating Smoking and Disease. The award will be presented to Spira today at the Opening Session of the Annual Meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians in Chicago.

 

This award recognizes Spira’s seminal research contributions that have enhanced the understanding of the biological response of lung tissue to tobacco smoke, which can cause lung cancer and chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD). Spira has applied innovative approaches to measure gene expression in populations of lung cells damaged by tobacco toxins and was the first to define the reversibility and permanent impact of cigarette smoke on gene activity in the bronchial airway. Spira’s lab has leveraged this genomic response in the airway to develop an early detection biomarker that can enable physicians to diagnose lung cancer earlier among smokers at risk for disease. This has important scientific, clinical and therapeutic implications. More recently, his group has extended this genomic approach to develop molecular biomarkers that can guide treatment decisions in COPD and identify novel therapeutic opportunities for this chronic debilitating disease.

 

Spira, who also is a physician in the pulmonary, critical care and allergy department at Boston Medical Center, is a graduate of Vanier College, Montreal, Canada, the McGill University Faculty of Medicine, also in Montreal, and Boston University (BU.) He also is the Director of the Translational Bioinformatics Program within the Clinical Translational Science Institute of BU.

 

The Award is named in honor of Doctor Alton Ochsner, co-founder of the Ochsner Clinic in New Orleans. In 1939, Ochsner was the first to publish evidence relating cigarette (tobacco) smoking as the primary cause of lung cancer.

 

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About Boston University School of Medicine
Originally established in 1848 as the New England Female Medical College, and incorporated into Boston University in 1873, Boston University School of Medicine today is a leading academic medical center with an enrollment of more than 700 medical students and more than 800 masters and PhD students. Its 1,246 full and part-time faculty members generated more than $335 million in funding in the 2009-2010 academic year for research in amyloidosis, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, cancer, infectious disease, pulmonary disease and dermatology among others. The School is affiliated with Boston Medical Center, its principal teaching hospital, the Boston and Bedford Veterans Administration Medical Centers and 16 other regional hospitals as well as the Boston HealthNet.

 

About Boston Medical Center

Boston Medical Center is a private, not-for-profit, 496-bed, academic medical center that is the primary teaching affiliate of Boston University School of Medicine. Committed to providing high-quality health care to all, the hospital offers a full spectrum of pediatric and adult care services including primary and family medicine and advanced specialty care with an emphasis on community-based care. Boston Medical Center offers specialized care for complex health problems and is a leading research institution. Boston Medical Center and Boston University School of Medicine are partners in the Boston HealthNet – 15 community health centers focused on providing exceptional health care to residents of Boston. For more information, please visit www.bmc.org.

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