Funding research that leads to the prevention and cure of
asthma and allergic and immunologic disease

What We Do

Interview with Lora Bankova, MD

Lora G. Bankova, MD
Brigham and Women's Hospital
Project: "A Novel Cysteinyl Leukotriene Pathway for Control of Epithelial Cell Differentiation and Function"
$240,000 paid over 3 years
Award Term: July 2017-June 2020

What is the goal of your research?

We are trying to understand two things. One is how epithelial cells initiate immune responses. We’re starting to understand that there are all kinds of different epithelial cells. They are very diverse and have different functions.

Especially in the airways, we don’t necessarily think of epithelial cells as a widely diverse group of cells. We know of specialized functions of some airway epithelial cells: goblet cells produce mucus that traps particles and ciliated cells move the mucus and particles away from the lung. We are now beginning to appreciate more fully that different epithelial cells have distinct immunologic functions. Distinct subsets or epithelial cells produce different cytokines or even mediators that are classically thought to come from nerve cells and affect the very first response in the airways to the environment. My project is focused on defining some of the functions of these epithelial cell subsets.

How has the Faculty Development Award funding helped you?

It’s been very critical. I received some bridge funding from Brigham, but obviously it cannot last forever. It was very important to get this award both for the financial support and to feel like people believe in me and what I am doing.

Why is it important to have opportunities for young investigators?

It is not a straight-forward and easy thing to get funding. Because National Institutes of Health funding is so limited, everyone is applying for the Foundation awards and every possible grant they can find. The competition is very difficult because you’re no longer competing only with junior investigators. Senior investigators are applying for these awards now.

Who are your mentors?

K. Frank Austen, MD, FAAAAI; Nora A. Barrett, MD, FAAAAI; Lisa A. Beck, MD, FAAAAI; and Bruce S. Bochner, MD, FAAAAI; Joshua A. Boyce, MD, FAAAAI; and Michael F. Gurish, PhD.