Asthma research at Duke is aimed at developing more targeted asthma treatment, preventing asthma attacks, and perhaps one day being able to prevent the disease from developing in the first place.

Members of the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care are working to identify and describe different types of asthma so that treatments can be tailored to those types. They are also working to identify physiological pathways that instigate asthma attacks, and to design therapies to modify those pathways. 

Along another line of attack, the division is also investigating the lung’s microbiome, which is less diverse among people with asthma. Early life exposures to things like vaginal birth, breastfeeding, pets and older siblings are associated with a more diverse lung microbiome — and a lower likelihood of developing asthma. By studying the lung’s biome, the division hopes to help develop ways to reduce the severity of asthma or even to prevent it.

In March 2013, the Duke Asthma, Allergy and Airway Center relocated to Hillandale Road in Durham — just a few minutes away from Duke Hospital. The new custom-designed space offers plenty of room for seeing patients and running clinical trials, several of which offer novel therapies for severe asthma. Faculty and staff there are also in the planning stages of a project to evaluate whether a comprehensive approach to asthma care in collaboration with community partners can improve outcomes among asthma patients.