Funds to Support Lung Disease Research
TYLER, Texas (February 8, 2024) –The University of Texas at Tyler School of Medicine received a $1.25 million gift from the Padosi Foundation to support Dr. Jennifer R. Honda’s research in lung disease. Honda is the inaugural director of the university’s Center for Mycobacterial Treatment and Discovery, and her research focus is nontuberculous mycobacteria, or NTM.
This is the latest of a series of gifts received locally, statewide and nationally to support lung disease research, advancing the UT Tyler Health Science Center’s legacy as the “Chest Hospital” for East Texas.
“We are tremendously grateful to the Padosi Foundation for recognizing and supporting the importance of Dr. Honda’s transformative research,” said President Kirk A. Calhoun, MD, FACP.
Nontuberculous mycobacterial infections are an emerging public health threat. The rates of infection are increasing, especially among women and the elderly. This environmentally acquired lung disease can cause damage and scarring to airways over time, making them more susceptible to other respiratory infections. Treatment often requires multiple antibiotics taken over the course of several years.
“Our university is nationally recognized for treating nontuberculous mycobacterial lung disease,” said Dr. Julie V. Philley, executive vice president and vice provost for UT Tyler health affairs. “The addition of Dr. Jennifer Honda to the Tyler team is a game changer. We cannot express how excited we are about this project and Dr. Honda’s expertise in the lab. We are committed to her success but most importantly, the diagnosis, treatment and understanding of these bacteria with the goal of helping patients.”
Honda’s Center for Mycobacterial Treatment and Discovery researches the development of NTM and how it and other serious lung infections adapt to climate changes. This gift will increase research opportunities and enable the center to recruit high-caliber researchers from across the nation, leading to improved clinical care for patients affected by this infection.
“We are thrilled to support the UT Tyler School of Medicine on this groundbreaking initiative and to continue our support of Dr. Jennifer R. Honda’s research,” said Andrew Merz, executive director of the Padosi Foundation. “Padosi was founded in Hawaii, which has one of the highest rates of NTM lung disease in the nation, and we have always been inspired by the community-oriented approach that Dr. Honda takes to her research, which offers enriching educational opportunities to high school and college students and other members of the community in Hawaii. We are so excited to see what she and UT Tyler do next.”
“I look forward to this next chapter with the Padosi Foundation,” said Honda. “The foundation’s support will help us produce additional scientific discoveries, while continuing to train the next generation of NTM scientists and clinicians on a larger scale.”
Honda was born and raised in Hawaii. She received her bachelor’s in biology and zoology from Colorado State University, her master’s in microbiology from the University of Hawaii and her PhD in microbiology from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Currently, Honda is a basic science, translational mycobacteriologist and tenured associate professor for the Department of Cellular and Molecular Biology and the School of Medicine. Earlier this year, she received a $300,000 Science and Technology Acquisition and Retention Award from UT System to invest in her research.
With a mission to improve educational and health care outcomes for East Texas and beyond, UT Tyler offers more than 90 undergraduate and graduate programs to nearly 10,000 students. Through its alignment with UT Tyler Health Science Center and UT Health East Texas, UT Tyler has unified these entities to serve Texas with quality education, cutting-edge research and excellent patient care. Classified by Carnegie as a doctoral research institution and by U.S. News & World Report as a national university, UT Tyler has campuses in Tyler, Longview, Palestine and Houston.