Meet APF scientist Dr Richard Allen

Male scientist sat in front of computer screen surrounded by paperwork
November 2021

Why are you passionate about pulmonary fibrosis research?

"I wanted to be involved in research that was worthwhile and was going to make a real difference to people’s lives. I saw an advert for a PhD project investigating a disease I had never heard of called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and did some background reading to find out more. I saw how little was known about IPF at the time and was shocked I had never heard of it before. I immediately knew this was an area that desperately needed more research and was somewhere I could make a real positive impact."

What is the current focus of your research?

"I am using the DNA from individuals with IPF to understand why some people experience a highly progressive form of the disease while others live for many years after diagnosis with relatively stable lung health. I am also using this DNA to understand why people develop IPF in the first place. This includes comparing the underlying genetics of PF to other diseases, such as fibrotic diseases in other organs, and I am currently investigating the role of known PF genetic variants in Covid-19 severity. I am also part of the team recruiting individuals to a genetic study of pigeon fanciers (as these individuals are at high risk of the lung disease hypersensitivity pneumonitis)."

Why is it important that APF funds pulmonary fibrosis research?

Our understanding of pulmonary fibrosis is improving all the time but there is still so much we do not know. The only way we will develop effective treatments for all forms of PF will be by studying these diseases further through research.

"By APF funding research, it will guide the research field to ensure that the questions most important to those affected by PF are being answered."

What do you hope your research will achieve?  

"If we can understand the underlying biological mechanisms that are causing a disease to progress then we can develop new treatments that target these processes. By identifying genetic subgroups of patients, not only could this help us predict how someone’s disease will progress, but it may also identify subsets of patients who will respond differently to different treatments. This knowledge means we can move towards personalised medicine where each person is given a targeted treatment that is most likely to be effective for them."

Dr Richard Allen is based at the University of Leicester and is funded through our Mike Bray Fellowship award scheme.

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