Nicholas “Nick” Heaton, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology at Duke University, has been selected to receive a Hartwell Foundation Individual Biomedical Research Award to support his work exploring the role of virally induced inflammation in the development of asthma.
The award will provide him with research support of $100,000 annually for three years. Heaton is one of 12 individuals from 10 different institutions this year to receive recognition as Hartwell investigators.
Heaton studies the cellular after-effects of viral respiratory infections. The Hartwell Award will support his research exploring the role of influenza infection in the development of asthma in young children. Children aged 3 and under who suffer an acute respiratory infection severe enough to require hospitalization have a high risk of subsequently developing asthma. Heaton will investigate the potential role that respiratory cells that are exposed to, but not killed by, influenza play in causing post-infection asthma. He will do studies in animal models and also conduct a long-term clinical trial monitoring children who have had severe influenza infection.
For each of the past 12 years, Duke has been designated as one of The Hartwell Foundation’s Top Ten Centers of Biomedical Excellence. Each year the foundation invites each of its Top Ten Center institutions to nominate up to three principal investigators from their faculty to compete for Individual Biomedical Research Awards, which support early-stage research to advance children’s health.