The University of Arizona

History And Background

Asthma and Airway Disease Research Center: A Tradition of Medical Excellence

The Asthma and Airway Disease Research Center is an interdisciplinary Center of Excellence at the University of Arizona College of Medicine dedicated to research, clinical care, medical education, and community service in the areas of adult and pediatric pulmonary medicine. One of the College's first Centers of Excellence, the Asthma and Airway Disease Research Center over three decades has built an international reputation in researching and treating asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, sleep apnea, and other major respiratory diseases.


The roots of the Asthma and Airway Disease Research Center go back to 1971, when the National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded a Specialized Center of Research (SCOR) grant to two physicians at the University of Arizona's new College of Medicine. The grant supported what would become a 25-year interdisciplinary study of obstructive lung disease involving 5,000 Tucson residents. The study has been called a national resource by the NIH for its contribution to our understanding of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

As work progressed on the SCOR study, the Center grew and prospered as a research institution. Through the years, our internationally recognized researchers have investigated respiratory issues in the areas of genetics, physiology, immunology, molecular and cell biology, pediatrics, radiology, pathology, and cardiology. Many of these studies continue today, and many more are scheduled to begin.

Patient Care

Early on in the Center's history, the faculty and staff recognized the importance of translating their knowledge about respiratory diseases into state-of-the-art medical care for the residents of southern Arizona. As a result, the St. Luke's in the Desert Clinic was constructed adjacent to the Asthma and Airway Disease Research Center's research offices.

The Center also operates a comprehensive laboratory for testing pulmonary function and diagnosing respiratory diseases. Working in that laboratory, researchers have developed revolutionary noninvasive methods for testing the lung capacity of infants and young children.

Center physicians also treat patients at the Sounthern Arizona VA Healthcare System, Tucson Medical Center, Kindred Hospital and Clinics in Yuma, the White Mountain Apache Reservation, and the Navajo Nation. 

Medical Education

Faculty members at the Asthma and Airway Disease Research Center freely pass along their expertise to undergraduates, graduate medical students, Residents, and postdoctoral Fellows at the College of Medicine. Nearly 100 Fellows have completed fellowships at the Center and now hold positions in hospitals and universities the world over.

Center faculty also routinely publish their work in scientific and consumer publications, speak at national conferences, serve on the editorial boards of professional journals, and serve on the boards of non-profit organizations-all to help lead the national effort in respiratory research and patient care. 

The Future

The internationally respected scholars of the Asthma and Airway Disease Research Center are leading some of the nation's most promising studies into the causes, treatments, and prevention of debilitating respiratory disease. And they're providing exceptional care to children and adults plagued by breathing disorders. To ensure the future of this important work, however, they need partners in the community.