Hunter asthma duo recognised in European Respiratory Society awards

TWO Hunter asthma researchers have won European Respiratory Society awards. 

Respiratory physician Professor Peter Gibson and Professor Jodie Simpson were both honoured with awards that each draw funding of 50,000 euros ($77,000). 

Professor Gibson, who works at the John Hunter Hospital and is a University of Newcastle conjoint, received the ERS Gold Medal for excellence in asthma research. 

Professor Simpson won the Romain Pauwels Research award in recognition of clinical research on airway diseases. 

“These are outstanding achievements for Peter and Jodie, as well as the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and HMRI,” said Professor Vanessa McDonald, co-director of the National Health and Medical Research Council’s Centre of Excellence in Severe Asthma. 

“It’s a fantastic outcome for our community and reflects our vision to be world leaders in the development and implementation of new treatment approaches for people who live with a chronic lung disease.”

Results of one of Professor Gibson’s recent studies showed asthma attacks were reduced by 40 per cent with a low daily dosage of macrolide antibiotic Azithromycin. 

His work also helped have Mepolizumab listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme after targeted clinical trials.

Professor Simpson, who was co-leader on that study, has received international recognition for focusing on airway inflammation caused by neutrophils, which are white blood cells that fight infection.

She now leads a research program investigating airway inflammation and infection as well as treatment of severe asthma. 

“It is a great honour to be recognised by a prestigious European society for my work as a lung disease scientist,” Professor Simpson said.

The awards will be formally presented during an international congress in Paris in September.