A physician-scientist whose research on asthma is world-renowned, Monica Kraft, MD, professor and chair of the University of Arizona Department of Medicine, has received the American Thoracic Society’s Distinguished Achievement Award. The award is given to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to fighting respiratory disease through research, education, patient care or advocacy.
"This is not a recognition received in isolation,” Dr. Kraft said. “I have been blessed with amazing mentors and colleagues who have provided guidance and collaboration throughout my career, as well as incredible support from my family. It is both an honor and a privilege to receive this award."
Dr. Kraft, who also is the UA College of Medicine – Tucson’s Robert and Irene Flinn Endowed Chair of Medicine and deputy director of the UA Health Sciences Asthma and Airway Disease Research Center, served as ATS president in 2012-13. The award was presented May 20 at the 2018 ATS International Conference in San Diego.
At the conference, Dr. Kraft chaired, moderated and participated in multiple panels, sessions and courses. Among those she chaired were a postgraduate course on “Asthma State of the Art 2018,” “Asthma and Allergic Diseases Cooperative Research Centers: Advances in Asthma”—a session sponsored by the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases—and an abstract poster discussion session on “Mechanisms and Clinical Features of Severe Asthma.”
The ATS honor is one of several Dr. Kraft has received this past year, including being named the American College of Physicians – Arizona Chapter Researcher of the Year, a fellow in Drexel University’s Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine Program, and a fellow in the European Respiratory Society. She also was asked to testify before the U.S. Senate last summer on how lowering air quality standards might impact respiratory and asthma patients.
Funded largely by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Dr. Kraft is part of several national and international research groups focused on personalized medicine approaches in the development of therapies to provide relief for asthma patients, if not a cure for the disease.
As a member of the NIH PrecISE (Precision Interventions for Severe and Exacerbation Prone Asthma) Network of researchers, she received a nearly $2.43 million, six-year grant last fall from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, a unit of the NIH, for research she’s involved in as part of the PrecISE ADAPT (Advancing Severe Asthma Precision Therapy) Project. Her co-principal investigator on the grant is Eugene Bleecker, MD, co-chief of the UA Division of Genetics, Genomics and Precision Medicine and co-director of the Division of Pharmacogenomics in the UA Health Sciences Center for Applied Genetics and Genomic Medicine. PrecISE involves about $100 million expected to be divided later this year among 10 academic medical centers and their partners across the country.
A year ago, Dr. Kraft also was one of a dozen UA researchers to win an Arizona Biomedical Research Commission grant to advance her work on “Surfactant Protein A as an Innate Immune Modulator in Asthma” with UA colleague Julie Ledford, PhD, an assistant professor of medicine and immunobiology and a member of the UA BIO5 Institute, where both their labs are housed. Dr. Kraft’s three-year ABRC Arizona Investigator Award is worth $750,000.
Among other honors, Dr. Kraft is a fellow in the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, American College of Physicians and American College of Chest Physicians. Awards she has won include the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (presented at the White House in 2000), an NIH Mentored Clinical Scientist Development Award, and the Parker B. Francis Fellowship for Lung Research.
About the American Thoracic Society
The American Thoracic Society and ATS International Conference are a home for more than 16,000 pulmonary, critical care and sleep professionals from 102 countries. They span those in the earliest stages of their careers to those whose research or strides in clinical care has gained them international recognition. Each year, nearly 14,000 of these professionals choose to attend, present and learn about the latest advances, meet with colleagues from around the world and strike new collaborations. Learn more at thoracic.org
About the University of Arizona Health Sciences
The University of Arizona Health Sciences is the statewide leader in biomedical research and health professions training. It includes the UA Colleges of Medicine (Phoenix and Tucson), Nursing, Pharmacy and Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, with main campus locations in Tucson and the growing downtown Phoenix Biomedical Campus. From these vantage points, the UA Health Sciences reaches across the state of Arizona and the greater Southwest to provide cutting-edge health education, research, patient care and community outreach services. A major economic engine, the UA Health Sciences employs approximately 4,000 people, has approximately 800 faculty members and garners more than $140 million in research grants and contracts annually. Learn more at: uahs.arizona.edu (Follow us: Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | LinkedIn | Instagram)