Willis receives National Institutes of Health career development grant

The grant awarded to Kent Willis, M.D., will further his research in bronchopulmonary dysplasia, a chronic lung disease that is a common complication of premature birth.
Written by Brianna Hoge
Media Contact: Savannah Koplon

Close-up of gloved hands picking up tray of pipettes in the Comprehensive Genomics Shared Facility cancer research laboratory directed by Dr. Michael Crowley, PhD (Associate Professor, Genetics Research; Co-Director, CGSF) and Dr. Shawn Levy, PhD (Adjunct Professor, Epidemiology; Co-Director, CGSF), 2019.Kent Willis, M.D., assistant professor in the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Division of Neonatology, has received a K08 Career Development grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health.

The five-year grant will fund his research, titled “The gut-lung axis influences the development of bronchopulmonary dysplasia,” and support the development of his independent research program. Bronchopulmonary dysplasia is a chronic lung disease that is the most common and severe respiratory complication of premature birth. 

“The goal of the grant is to explore how fungi that naturally live in the gut influence the progression of lung injury in newborns,” Willis said.

Willis was also recently awarded a pilot grant from the UAB Microbiome Center to further develop a complementary line of investigation.