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May 26, 2011 - Dr. Steve Ballard Continues Cystic Fibrosis Research
Dr. Steve Ballard, professor of physiology at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, continues to search for ways to improve the care for patients living with cystic fibrosis. His efforts are funded through a research grant by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. This is the fourth consecutive year that he has received the award, with $108,000 being awarded each year.

Dr. Ballard belongs to a consortium of researchers – the Mucociliary Clearance Consortium – organized by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to study the mechanisms by which the lung clears mucus and inhaled pathogens from the airways of the lung.

“This research is intended to identify critical steps in this clearance process that are adversely affected in the airways of cystic fibrosis patients, who have an abnormally high susceptibility to chronic airway infections,” Dr. Ballard said.

Cystic fibrosis, an inherited chronic disease, is caused by a defective gene that causes the body to produce abnormally thick mucus. This mucus builds up in the airways of the lung and in the pancreas, the organ that helps to break down and absorb food. The collection of mucus can result in life-threatening lung infections and digestion problems.

Dr. Ballard said cystic fibrosis patients suffer from chronic lung infections that cause progressive loss of pulmonary function. “By better understanding the physiological basis for this obstructive process, it is hoped that more effective treatments for cystic fibrosis patients can be developed.”

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation was established in 1955 to assure the development of the means to cure and control cystic fibrosis and to improve the quality of life for those with the disease.

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