Omaha Public Radio News
2:20 pm
Fri March 11, 2011

UNMC receives $3.5 million to look for ways to prevent and treat lung disease in agricultural workers

Omaha, NE – Two federal grants are coming to UNMC for research into the causes of lung diseases.

The grants are from National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health and the Institute of Environmental Health Sciences of the National Institutes of Health. They total 3.5 million dollars. Dr. Jill Poole, allergist at UNMC, will direct one of the two grants. She says her research focuses on organic, dust-induced lung disease. Dr. Poole says she is especially interested in studying agricultural workers who are at risk for lung disease as they are exposed to dust on a daily basis. She says non-allergic disease is a big problem for these workers. Dr. Poole says though it isn't a specific allergen, "it's still a reaction to what's in the environment and the therapies that we have to combat it aren't good. They are just sub-optimal. And as I got interested in studying what is in the environment, it became clear to me that we weren't focusing on the right problem. Certainly other components or factors within these environments are actually eliciting disease."

Dr. Poole says goals of the research include better treatment options and identification of the important agents within the dust so exposure may be reduced.