Albany Med Awarded $2.8M NIH Grant to Expand COPD Research

Albany Med has been awarded a five-year, $2.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study how carbon dioxide and metabolism impact chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD).

COPD refers to a group of diseases, including emphysema and chronic bronchitis, that block airflow to the lungs and make it difficult to breathe.

Ariel Jaitovich, MD, a pulmonologist in Albany Med’s Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine and an associate professor in the Departments of Medicine and Molecular and Cellular Physiology at Albany Medical College, has been directing NIH-funded studies on COPD since 2016.

“People with COPD frequently have high levels of carbon dioxide in their blood as well as muscle dysfunction – that is, a loss of muscle strength and endurance – that’s associated with metabolism,” said Dr. Jaitovich, the physician-scientist leading the study.

With support from this new grant, awarded by the NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Dr. Jaitovich and his team will use animal models to investigate the role of a particular mitochondrial enzyme (succinate dehydrogenase, or SDH) and the effects of elevated carbon dioxide on metabolism and COPD-related muscle weakness.

“We hope to learn how metabolism contributes to the long-term effects of COPD-driven muscle dysfunction, which could eventually lead to the development of drugs that improve the quality of life for those suffering from this disease,” said Dr. Jaitovich.

According to the American Lung Association, more than 16.4 million Americans have been diagnosed with COPD and it is the third leading cause of death by disease.