icddr,b scientist joins global efforts to improve respiratory health

icddr,b is collaborating with a new global health research unit on respiratory health initiative that focuses on reducing the impact of lung diseases worldwide.

Experts have received £7 million in funding from the National Institute for Health Research to launch the research initiative known as RESPIRE, based in the University of Edinburgh.

It aims to cut death rates from conditions that affect breathing and to reduce the impact these illnesses have on people’s daily lives.

Dr Shams El Arifeen, a senior director at icddr,b will be acting as a programme lead of one of the platforms, focusing on maximising the safe and secure use of research data.

Pneumonia is a major cause of death among children under 5 in Bangladesh. Photo: Shumon Ahmed / icddr,b

“RESPIRE gives us a new opportunity to expand our research on ways to prevent and manage pneumonia that continues to be a major cause of death among Bangladeshi children under the age of 5 years,” says Dr Arifeen.

The collaborating researchers from Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, and Pakistan will work to identify key challenges in these areas and to ensure potential interventions are fit for purpose around the world.

The teams will investigate infectious diseases – such as pneumonia – as well as long term illnesses including asthma, lung cancer and chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD).

RESPIRE will be based in the University of Edinburgh’s Usher Institute of Population Health Sciences and Informatics.


Respiratory Diseases in South Asia

Respiratory diseases are responsible for one in five deaths in South Asia and experts continue to seek new approaches to tackle the problem. The RESPIRE team is setting up training programmes to equip research teams in the abovementioned four countries with the skills needed to carry out high quality research in respiratory illnesses. 

The scheme will put in place safeguards to ensure research data can be used securely to find answers to the most pressing questions.

Professor Aziz Sheikh, co-director of RESPIRE at the University of Edinburgh, said: “RESPIRE will enable us to accelerate and extend our work with low and middle income country partners around the world to tackle major respiratory health challenges faced by the world’s most deprived populations.”   

Professor Harry Campbell, co-director of RESPIRE at the University of Edinburgh, said: “We welcome the funding from NIHR to strengthen existing and create new research networks in Asia.

Working with our RESPIRE partners, we will use this platform to raise awareness, build capacity and accelerate action to drive down the burden of disease from respiratory problems in Asia, and more widely around the world.”