Presented to: Dr James Chalmers
This award is presented for excellence in achievements in clinical research on airway diseases such as asthma and related conditions, or other respiratory diseases.
James Chalmers has made a major contribution to the field of bronchiectasis, a neglected chronic airway disease for which there are no licensed treatments. When he was awarded a Medical Research Council (MRC) training fellowship to undertake a PhD on the immunology of bronchiectasis, it was the first time in almost 50 years that the MRC, the major funding body in the UK, had awarded a grant to study bronchiectasis. His PhD work resulted in a number of key publications including the demonstration that airway bacterial load is associated with airway neutrophilic inflammation and future exacerbation risk, and that inflammation is suppressed by antibiotic therapy.
He was awarded a prestigious Wellcome Trust Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2012 to establish an independent research group at the University of Dundee. Also in 2012, in collaboration with the European Respiratory Society and colleagues from across Europe, he founded the European Multicentre Bronchiectasis Audit and Research Collaboration (EMBARC) as an international network of researchers dedicated to improving clinical research into bronchiectasis.
His group is presently focussing on the interaction between neutrophils and the airway microbiome using state-of-the-art sequencing and proteomic techniques. This is being applied to bronchiectasis as part of a pan-European study, and to COPD where bronchiectasis, airway infection and neutrophilic inflammation intersect. The first key findings from this work have now been published showing that neutrophil elastase and related biomarkers can predict exacerbations and lung function decline in bronchiectasis (AJRCCM 2017).
With the support of GlaxoSmithKline, ERS offers an award of €50,000 to encourage a new generation of lung scientists and to support young researchers in their quest to understand and treat respiratory illnesses. This award is dedicated to the memory of Professor Romain Pauwels (1943–2005) for his efforts in fighting asthma and COPD.