DLD Paves the Way for the Science of the Future

Gary Gibbons

Gary Gibbons

Since 1969, the National Institutes of Health’s Division of Lung Diseases (DLD) has facilitated the development of a robust and vibrant research community, which has produced research findings that have changed practice—from the early findings about surfactant to the precision medicine trials of today, according to Gary Gibbons, MD, director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), one of the NIH’s largest institutions.

Dr. Gibbons will co-chair Monday’s President’s Symposium, which will commemorate the DLD’s 50thanniversary. Speakers will highlight important scientific advances in pulmonary health and disease and illustrate DLD’s role in facilitating lung biology and disease research.

The basic research of yesterday has created opportunities for groundbreaking clinical trials today,” said Dr. Gibbons. “Throughout its 50-year history, the division has been a pioneer at NIH in creating opportunities at the leading edge of science.”

For 50 years, the DLD has facilitated research advances by creating opportunities to overcome barriers and make breakthroughs on the causes, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of lung diseases and sleep disorders, said Dr. Gibbons. In the early years, this was coupled with strategic training programs to prepare the researchers for the future.

President’s Symposium: 50 Years of Progress in Pulmonary Science (B13)

9:15-11:15 a.m.


Room D221/D225/D226 (Level 2), KBHCCD

“Even today, DLD takes a multidisciplinary approach to discovering treatments and improving care for patients who have lung diseases and sleep disorders by creating connections between stakeholders and scientists,” he said.

Most key scientific advances in pulmonary health and disease since the DLD’s creation can be seen in lower mortality from neonatal respiratory diseases and acute lung injury, improved survival in patients with cystic fibrosis, new treatments for people with asthma and COPD, and better understanding of health risks for individuals who have sleep apnea, said Dr. Gibbons.

“We have a much greater understanding at a molecular level about the heterogeneity of a disease, positioning us for more tailored, precise treatments with less untoward effects,” he said. “We are hopeful that this greater understanding will create opportunities to detect lung diseases in their earliest stages, before symptom development, and allow us to intervene to prevent disease progression.”

Going forward, the DLD will continue to foster discovery, said Dr. Gibbons. Guided by the NHLBI’s Strategic Vision established in 2016, the DLD has set four strategic priorities: Prevention, Regeneration, Precision Medicine, and Implementation.

Although pulmonary disease remains a major challenge, there are also tremendous future possibilities, including a cure for cystic fibrosis with gene-editing technologies and exciting research in sleep and circadian rhythms, such as discovering how sleep may protect against heart disease,” said Dr. Gibbons “New bioengineering approaches open the real possibility of regenerating or rebuilding a new lung. The DLD is also spearheading an exciting, new asthma network, called PreCISE, to test more advanced, precision approaches to severe asthma management, which could serve as a model for testing precision approaches to the management of other lung diseases.”