CHESTBlogLaying the Groundwork for NIH-Funded Research

Laying the Groundwork for NIH-Funded Research

Laying the Groundwork for NIH-Funded Research

By: Kendra Benner
October 10, 2022

Ghada Bourjeily, MD, FCCP

Ghada Bourjeily, MD, FCCP

Ghada Bourjeily, MD, FCCP

Ghada Bourjeily, MD, FCCP

A CHEST Foundation grant awarded to Ghada Bourjeily, MD, FCCP, not only supported her innovative study, but it also helped her gather essential data that would lead to more than $2 million in federal funding for her research.

Dr. Bourjeily is a Professor of Medicine at Brown University in Providence, RI. She’s also Director of Research for the Women’s Medicine Collaborative and Associate Chief of Research and Academic Advancement for Women’s Services at Lifespan in Providence.

The CHEST Foundation awarded Dr. Bourjeily a grant in 2009 to study sleep-disordered breathing in pregnant women. At the time, sleep apnea in pregnant women hadn’t been studied very much, and it went widely undiagnosed.

In her investigation, Dr. Bourjeily examined how inspiratory flow limitations—an important parameter for assessing sleep-disordered breathing—compared between pregnant women and nonpregnant women.

Dr. Bourjeily’s grant was instrumental in helping her get the initial data she needed to apply for funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Through the CHEST Foundation-supported study, Dr. Bourjeily and her team were able to develop a research infrastructure that increased the visibility of their findings and showed they could conduct the tests on a larger scale.

“To get NIH funding, it’s really important to have preliminary data. And in order to get preliminary data, you need to have funding from foundations and [get] different types of grants. We were able to publish the [study], and that set the stage for NIH funding,” she said.

Since her 2009 grant, Dr. Bourjeily has received funding from the NIH for multiple studies—including a $2.8 million research program.

Throughout the last decade, her team’s work has helped advance the field of sleep-disordered breathing research in pregnant women, and they’ve helped influence changes in clinical practice for pregnant women.

Rather than seeing one or two pregnant women a month who have been diagnosed with sleep apnea like she did 10 years ago, Dr. Bourjeily now sees many more women who have been screened for sleep apnea during pregnancy, have done a sleep study during pregnancy, or were diagnosed through her team’s studies.

“Our lab has been able to improve things for pregnant women where we were able to diagnose them with sleep apnea, offer them treatment, and counsel them in terms of the risk of pregnancy,” she said. “We still have many questions that remain unanswered, but I think we have made great strides.”

In addition to her 2009 grant, Dr. Bourjeily also received a CHEST Foundation grant to study how sleep apnea may impact gestational diabetes and cortisol levels in pregnant women. This data was also used as preliminary data for another $2.7 million grant.

“CHEST Foundation grants helped us transform the care of women that are pregnant and may have sleep-disordered breathing. So many more providers are now screening for this than they were 5 or 10 years ago, and pregnant women are so grateful to have a diagnosis and be offered treatment,” she said.

Support researchers like Dr. Bourjeily by donating to CHEST. If you’re interested in applying for a grant, explore community service and research grant opportunities.



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