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Friday Oct 25, 2002

Media Contact:
Jeff Minerd
(301) 402-1663

HHS Awards University of Wisconsin $55.8 Million to Fight Asthma in Inner-City Children

HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson today announced that the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has awarded a six-year, $55.8 million contract to the University of Wisconsin at Madison. This contract will establish a nationwide research network with the goal of reducing the severity of asthma and preventing the disease in inner-city children, a group that suffers disproportionately from asthma.

"Inadequate access to health care and the best available asthma treatments is one of the reasons for higher rates of asthma and asthma-related deaths in inner-city children," said Secretary Thompson. "The new contract reflects the Department's continuing commitment to addressing this health disparity."

The primary aim of this research network, termed the Inner-City Asthma Consortium (ICAC), is to conduct clinical trials to evaluate the effectiveness of promising immune-based asthma treatments in inner-city children. The effectiveness of currently available asthma treatments may also be tested to make sure they are put to their best use in this population. Finally, the consortium will likely investigate possible genetic predispositions to asthma and the biological mechanisms underlying development of the disease.

The University of Wisconsin at Madison will function as the hub of this research network. Principal investigator and noted asthma researcher William Busse, M.D., and colleagues will coordinate the clinical trials, which will occur at eight sites across the country. The list of sites follows:

  • Boston University, Boston, Mass.
  • Children's Memorial Hospital, Chicago, Ill.
  • Howard University, Washington, D.C.
  • Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md.
  • Mt. Sinai Medical Center, New York, N.Y.
  • National Jewish Medical Center, Denver, Colo.
  • University of Arizona, Tucson, Ariz.
  • University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas Texas

"The researchers and institutions in this network are the cream of the crop of asthma investigators in this country," said Anthony S. Fauci, NIAID director. "This program combines the skills of investigators experienced in working with inner-city children with asthma, the availability of a pediatric population that may benefit greatly from improved therapy, and the talents of many basic immunologists and clinical researchers."

An additional $14 million over seven years will go to Rho Federal Systems Division, Inc., in Chapel Hill, N.C. This group will collect and analyze the clinical trial data as well as assist with design of the trials and the training and monitoring of site personnel.

Many of the investigators and institutions in the consortium also participate in NIAID's National Cooperative Inner-City Asthma Studies (NCICAS). Launched in 1991 to combat asthma in inner-city children, this network has developed several successful so-called "interventions," public education and outreach methods that have proved to reduce the severity of asthma in inner-city children. Unlike NCICAS, whose goal is to develop new interventions, the new consortium aims to identify promising new asthma medicines through the conduct of clinical trials.

NIAID conducts and supports research—at NIH, throughout the United States, and worldwide—to study the causes of infectious and immune-mediated diseases, and to develop better means of preventing, diagnosing and treating these illnesses. News releases, fact sheets and other NIAID-related materials are available on the NIAID Web site at

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

NIH...Turning Discovery Into Health ®

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NIAID Archive

Important note: Information on this page was accurate at the time of publication. This page is no longer being updated.

Last Updated October 25, 2002