APF funded research

APF’s vision is to stop pulmonary fibrosis so that everyone affected by the disease has a better future.

Research funded by Action for Pulmonary Fibrosis

On the 4th April 2024, we announced our latest investment of over £600,000 in research with two new fellowships. You can read more here.

We are one of the major charities funding pulmonary fibrosis research in Europe. With your help, we are determined to make the greatest contribution we can to national and global research efforts.

We directly fund high quality, high impact research that has the potential to:

  • contribute towards the discovery of an effective treatment or cure, and
  • accelerate change which will enable our community to live well for longer.

Our amazing fundraisers and supporters enable us to invest in research.  From marathons to coffee mornings, selling crafts to singing songs, and heartfelt donations in memory of loved ones, every penny has the potential to change a life.  Join us in our research appeal to provide Hope for All.

Read about our latest research funding opportunities here

Our scientists

We fund research scientists who are dedicated to increasing our knowledge and understanding of pulmonary fibrosis and ensuring that everyone affected by the disease has a better future.  

We fund research fellowships in honour of APF’s founding chair of trustees Mike Bray, who passed away in 2017. Mike lived for six years following his lung transplant as a result of his IPF.

Our current fellows:

Meet Dr Bin (Kevin) Liu, National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London

Pictured: Dr Bin (Kevin) Liu, National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London

Dr Liu’s research, based at the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College London, will examine how the genetic changes that increase the risk of developing lung scarring also alter signalling pathways within lung cells.  This in turn could help to identify novel drug targets to slow - or stop - scarring of the lungs.

During my training as a doctor, I was struck by the difficulties patients with pulmonary fibrosis faced, with no access to a treatment that could stop the disease.  I was motivated to take a step back from directly caring for patients to dedicate my time to understanding what is actually happening in the lungs. The APF Fellowships, recognized for supporting pioneering research in this field, offer me a unique opportunity to try to uncover new treatment targets and improve outcomes for patients.
My research focuses on how and why lung scarring occurs. I work in a laboratory and study cells and molecules in human lung tissue. I’m interested in a type of signalling protein called AKAP13, that appears to have a role in the development of pulmonary fibrosis. I want to understand why there is more AKAP13 in damaged lung tissue and whether lowering the level of AKAP13 in lung cells ‘switches off’ pathways that drive lung scarring.  Although my initial focus is on AKAP13, the techniques I will be developing can be applied to other potential drug targets as we learn more about the disease.

Dr Liu commenced his research fellowship in April 2024 and his project will be carried out over the next three years.

Meet Dr Jenny Dickens, University of Cambridge - commencing November 2024

Pictured: Dr Jenny Dickens, University of Cambridge

Dr Dickens research, based at the University of Cambridge, involves the development of a new laboratory technique using miniaturized 3D versions of the lung. This new model will enable her to study how genetic variations cause “stem cell-like” lung cells to misbehave, leading to lung scarring (fibrosis).

Studying PF in families has taught us how changes to lung cells called alveolar type 2 (AT2) cells are crucial to the development of familial pulmonary fibrosis. Medicines that target AT2 cells have the potential to stop the disease at a much earlier stage than existing drugs. But AT2 cells are difficult to work with in a laboratory, so I will be using cutting edge technologies to grow miniature 3D versions of the lung to understand more about these important cells in Familial PF.  New insights gained could also improve our understanding of other forms of pulmonary fibrosis.
I was inspired to undertake a PhD during my training in respiratory medicine having seen a patient with a rare genetic lung disease that sparked my interest. My ongoing work as a respiratory consultant and researcher is entirely inspired by my patients; trying to understand more about their conditions so we can develop better treatments. So it felt like a natural fit to apply for a Mike Bray Fellowship to support my work. This funding will be transformational for my research career, providing a spring board to establish a large research programme and allow me to take the next step to set up my own research group aiming to understand the triggers of pulmonary fibrosis and develop new treatments.

Our 2018/2019 fellows:

Dr Richard Allen, University of Leicester:

“Investigating the genetics of disease progression and classifying disease subtypes for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis”

Dr Allen’s research focuses on the genetics of pulmonary fibrosis.  So far, IPF has been shown to be associated with almost 20 genetic variations in patients. This project will compare the DNA of individuals with IPF to identify the genes that explain why some people experience very severe disease whereas others have milder symptoms.  This will hopefully lead to the identification of the different chemical and biological pathways involved in the process of fibrosis and to new treatments.

I am so excited to be given this chance to extend my work on the genetics of IPF which will help guide the development of new treatments for this devastating disease. I would like to thank Action for Pulmonary Fibrosis for giving me this incredible opportunity.

Genetic insights raise the future prospect of precision medicine, making it possible to target specific treatments to patients based on genetic or molecular abnormalities. Over the next three years, many more IPF-associated genetic variations are expected to be identified as a result of research by Dr Richard Allen at the University of Leicester. Dr Allen completed his fellowship in 2023 and continues his work in this area.

Join us in our research appeal so that we can fund more researchers like Dr Allen and find out more about why he is passionate about pulmonary fibrosis research.

Dr Philip Molyneaux, Imperial College London:

“Microbiome, Metabolism and Macrolides in IPF”

Dr Molyneaux’s research is investigating the role different bacteria play in disease progression and whether taking prophylactic antibiotics can slow down disease progression.  

It’s fantastic to be able to undertake research, supported by Action for Pulmonary Fibrosis, a patient-driven charity. I look forward to the next few years of exciting research ahead.

In IPF there are changes in the number and types of bacteria in the lungs, but we don’t understand why they are there or what they are doing. Dr Molyneaux’s research will aim to answer these questions, looking at how bacteria interact with cells in the lungs and what changes happen following antibiotics. Understanding this may allow us to identify new treatments or specific groups of patients with IPF who will benefit from existing therapies.

Join us in our research appeal so that we can fund more researchers like Dr Molyneaux, and find out more about what he hopes his research will achieve.

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