Amid Pandemic, Le Bonheur and UTHSC Researcher Receives American Lung Association Innovation Award

MEMPHIS, TN— Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center announced today that Amali Samarasinghe, PhD, was awarded the Charles and Amelia Gould Innovation award amounting to $75 thousand over two years through the American Lung Association’s Awards and Grants Program. The Lung Association has committed $11.55 million through 98 awards to fund promising research.

Research projects funded by the American Lung Association are carefully selected through rigorous scientific review and represent the investigation of a wide range of complex issues to help combat and reduce the suffering and burden of lung disease. Understanding how the immune system in a patient with underlying asthma responds to respiratory infections is important for personalized approaches to therapy.

Samarasinghe, a researcher at the Children's Foundation Institute, based at Le Bonheur Children's, and UTHSC is conducting research focused on eosinophils, cells that are of utmost importance to the development of asthma, and how they respond to influenza virus and Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria when exposed to both agents simultaneously. You can read the full abstract here.

“The Charles and Amelia Gould Innovation Award presented by the American Lung Association will support our research as we work to study how to keep children with asthma healthy and safe,” said Samarasinghe.

“COVID-19 has placed lung health at the forefront of everyone’s minds, especially for those who are concerned about air pollution, wildfires and pre-existing lung conditions such as asthma and COPD,” said American Lung Association President and CEO Harold Wimmer. “Despite the fact that the pandemic poses significant economic challenges, the American Lung Association is prioritizing research and significantly increasing award funding to help improve the lung health of all Americans.”

For more information about the COVID-19 Research Awards and the award recipients and projects, click here.

About the American Lung Association:

The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to champion clean air for all; to improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and to create a tobacco-free future. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800- 586-4872) or visit:

About Le Bonheur Children’s:

Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., treats children through community programs, regional clinics and a 255-bed state-of-the-art hospital. Le Bonheur serves as a primary teaching affiliate for the University Tennessee Health Science Center and trains more than 350 pediatricians and specialists each year. Nationally recognized, Le Bonheur is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as a Best Children’s Hospital. 

For more information, please call (901) 287-6030 or visit Connect with us at, or on Instagram at lebonheurchildrens.

About the University of Tennessee Health Science Center:

As Tennessee’s only public, statewide, academic health system, the mission of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center is to bring the benefits of the health sciences to the achievement and maintenance of human health through education, research, clinical care, and public service, with a focus on the citizens of Tennessee and the region. The main campus in Memphis includes six colleges: Dentistry, Graduate Health Sciences, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy. UTHSC also educates and trains medicine, pharmacy, and/or health professions students, as well as medical residents and fellows, at major sites in Knoxville, Chattanooga and Nashville. For more information, Find us on, on on

About the Children's Foundation Research Institute:

The Children's Foundation Research Institute (CFRI) is a partnership of Le Bonheur Children's Hospital, the University of Tennesee Health Science Center and Children's Foundation of Memphis. The CFRI works to provide the infrastructure and resources to develop a major pediatric research center that makes discoveries in the field of pediatric medicine. The CFRI is based in a 300,000-square-foot Research Center dedicated to basic, translational, and clinical research. For more information, please visit

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Posted: 11/18/20

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