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Brody Fund Sustains Momentum in Pulmonary Fibrosis Research

Support from a generous donor has helped Dr. Enelow (left) sustain a strong laboratory team and mentor junior physician-researchers, such as Mitsuo Matsuoka, MD, PhD.

By Steve Bjerklie

Could there be a connection between chronic inflammatory lung diseases, such as pulmonary fibrosis, and chronic autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis? That's one of the important questions that Dr. Richard Enelow, a professor of medicine and of microbiology and immunology at the Geisel School of Medicine and a pulmonologist at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, is exploring in his research laboratory.

It's the kind of research question that large grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) often support. But even accomplished scientists like Enelow sometimes experience gaps in funding between the conclusion of one NIH grant and the beginning of another. That's where private support from generous donors can provide a critical bridge. The Brody Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Research Fund, established by Marlene Brody in memory of her husband, has provided a stable source of support for Enelow, allowing his team to continue to generate important data and maintain momentum between grants.

"In addition, challenging clinical problems, such as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, require the exploration of unconventional ideas, and that is almost impossible with traditional biomedical research funding," says Enelow. "Seed money, or pilot funding, is essential to getting new research ideas off the ground."

In recent years, the Enelow lab has made important discoveries about inflammatory lung diseases, how they develop and what role immune cells and viruses play in that process. The lab's translational research involves multiple clinical trials of new agents to treat idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF)—a progressive disease in which tissue deep in the lungs becomes thick, stiff, and scarred, eventually compromising oxygen flow to the brain and other organs. His group has shown that immune responses to viral infection can become dysregulated and lead to chronic inflammation and fibrosis, and they have discovered an important molecule expressed on immune cells which usually prevents this from occurring. Enelow is in the process of studying the role of this and other protective mechanisms that may become dysfunctional in IPF and other lung diseases.

The hope of finding new treatments for lung diseases, namely IPF, is what inspires Marlene Brody to support the Enelow lab. Her husband, Ira Jerome Brody, D '44, Tuck '46, died of the disease in 2001. Jerry, as he was called, was a visionary restaurateur and is best known for creating, reviving, and operating landmark New York City restaurants, including the Four Seasons, the Rainbow Room, Gallagher's Steak House, the Oyster Bar in Grand Central Terminal, and several others.

"I'm extremely grateful for Mrs. Brody's support," says Enelow. "The Brody Fund allows me to spend more time focused on exploring novel ideas and provides important support for early studies that are too preliminary to be funded by federal agencies but can produce the data necessary to obtain larger grants."

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Geisel School of Medicine at DartmouthDartmouth-Hitchcock Medical CenterWhite River Junction VAMCNorris Cotton Cancer CenterDartmouth College