National Institutes of Health Issues Statement on World Asthma Day

WASHINGTON, D.C. — To mark World Asthma Day 2016 on May 3, the National Institutes of Health reaffirmed its commitment to support research to improve the lives of all people with asthma.

“NIH-funded research has advanced our understanding of asthma as a disease as well as the impact asthma has on the lives of those affected,” the agency said in a statement. “We have made great strides in learning how to treat and prevent asthma, and we are committed to ensuring that scientific discoveries move quickly into clinical practice to provide the best possible care for all people with asthma.”

Asthma is a chronic disease that intermittently inflames and narrows the airways. People with asthma may experience wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and coughing when the airways narrow. Roughly 300 million people worldwide live with this condition, including approximately 24 million in this country. In the U.S., asthma is a major contributing factor to missed time from school and work, and is also a major cause of hospitalization and emergency department visits.

Three NIH institutes lead studies of asthma: the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Together, these institutes support research to understand the causes of asthma and develop ways to better manage this condition, and on the increasingly important area of implementation, which translates scientific discoveries into clinical practice.

NHLBI-supported research on the development and testing of new asthma treatments and management strategies has shaped current practice recommendations. NIEHS scientists are studying the complex relationship between the environment, the immune system, and asthma. And NIAID’s asthma research focuses on better understanding the role of the immune system in the disease and identifying new treatment and prevention strategies.