Dr. Monica Kraft Receives Distinguished Achievement Award from American Thoracic Society

Image of Dr. Monica Kraft on a microscopic field of pollen, a common irritant for asthma patientsA physician-scientist whose research on asthma is world-renowned, Monica Kraft, MD, professor and chair of the University of Arizona Department of Medicine, was presented with the American Thoracic Society’s Distinguished Achievement Award on May 20 at the 2018 ATS International Conference in San Diego.

Dr. Kraft, who also is the UA’s Robert and Irene Flinn Endowed Chair of Medicine, served as ATS president in 2012-13. 

The ATS award is given to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to fighting respiratory disease through research, education, patient care or advocacy.

Dr. Kraft's husband, Dr. Charles Cairns – dean of the UA College of Medicine - Tucson – tweeted about his wife's award Sunday nightDr. Kraft's husband, Charles Cairns, MD—dean of the UA College of Medicine – Tucson—tweeted about his wife's award Sunday night. Click image to view the original tweet.

"This is not a recognition received in isolation,” Dr. Kraft said. “I have been blessed with amazing mentors and colleagues that 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."

The award is one of several honors Dr. Kraft has received in the 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 the impact lowering air quality standards might have on respiratory and asthma patients.

Funded largely through the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Dr. Kraft is part of several national and international research groups focused on developing personalized medicine approaches in search of therapies to provide relief for asthma patients if not a cure for the disease.

As a member of the NIH Precision Interventions for Severe and Exacerbation Prone Asthma (PrecISE) Network of researchers, she was awarded a nearly $2.43 million, six-year grant last fall from the National Health Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), a unit of the NIH, for research she’s involved with as part of the PrecISE ADAPT (Advancing Severe Asthma Precision Therapy) Project. Drs. Eugene Bleecker and Julie LedfordEugene Bleecker, MD, a professor of medicine, 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, is her co-principal investigator on that grant. The effort involves about $100 million that will be divided among 10 academic medical centers and their partners involved in the work from across the country.

In addition a year ago, Dr. Kraft 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 (above right), an assistant professor of medicine and immunobiology and a member of the UA BIO5 Institute, where both their labs are housed. Dr. Kraft received a three-year ABRC Arizona Investigator Award worth $750,000.

In addition to her own funding, Dr. Kraft noted earlier this year she was proud of the fact that the UA Department of Medicine has jumped from 56th to 39th on the annual Blue Ridge NIH Award Rankings—with awards for the department up from nearly $12 million in 2015 to almost $32 million by September 2017. "If you are not familiar with these rankings, it is a huge change for a Department in such a short time. This demonstrates that we have many talented and accomplished faculty engaged in research!" Dr. Kraft said.

Prior to joining the UA College of Medicine – Tucson faculty in 2014, Dr. Kraft was chief of the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care at Duke University and director of the Duke Asthma, Allergy and Airway Center, which she founded. As vice chair for research in the Duke University Department of Medicine, she helped support renewal of Duke’s NIH-funded Clinical Translational Science Award. Before that, she served as director of the Carl and Hazel Felt Laboratory in Adult Asthma Research at the National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver.

Among other honors, Dr. Kraft has been recognized as a fellow in the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (2016), American College of Physicians (1999) and American College of Chest Physicians (1997). Other awards she has won include the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (presented at the White House in 2000), NIH Mentored Clinical Scientist Development Award (1996), Parker B. Francis Fellowship for Lung Research (1994-96) and the UCLA Solomon Scholar Research Award (1990).

She earned her medical degree from the University of California San Francisco, completed her residency in internal medicine at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, where she was chief resident, and did a fellowship in pulmonary and critical care medicine at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver.

At the ATS 2018 conference that ran from May 18-23, 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.” She also made several related presentations and was co-author on several more abstracts and posters that were presented.

In all, more than two dozen UA faculty, fellows, residents and students attended and presented at the ATS conference. You can see them and their presentations in the event program (search for “Tucson”): http://conference.thoracic.org/program/resources/2018/virtual-final-program-final.pdf

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 http://www.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. The UA Health Sciences 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 Phoenix Biomedical Campus in downtown Phoenix. 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. For more information: uahs.arizona.edu (Follow us: Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | LinkedIn | Instagram)

"UA’s Dr. Monica Kraft Receives Distinguished Achievement Award from American Thoracic Society" (UAHS Office of Public Affairs) | Posted May 31, 2018
“FDA Approval for New Severe Asthma Therapy Advanced by Dr. Bleecker’s Research” | Posted Feb. 9, 2018
"Stopping Asthma in Childhood, Goal of $3.6M UA-Led International Consortium Funded by NIH" | Posted Jan. 24, 2018
“DOM Chair to Receive American Thoracic Society’s 2018 Distinguished Achievement Award” | Posted Jan. 23, 2018
“Drs. Kraft, Ledford Published Study Finds Molecular Reason for Poor Symptom Control in Obese Asthmatics” | Posted July 14, 2017
“$7 Million NIH Grant Aims at Helping Asthma Sufferers Better Control Attacks, Breathe Easier” | Posted Aug. 11, 2016

Release Date: 
05/23/2018 - 3:00pm