University of Illinois Cancer Center member Asrar Malik was awarded the 2021 Solbert Permutt Trailblazer Award in Pulmonary Physiology and Medicine by the American Thoracic Society.
Malik, PhD, professor and head of pharmacology and regenerative medicine at the University of Illinois Chicago and member of the Cancer Center’s Cancer Biology program, was nominated for his commitment to mentorship and pioneering work in endothelial and immune cells. The award, granted by the society’s Assembly on Respiratory Structure and Function, honors an established investigator who has conducted pioneering research and guided others in the field.
Malik’s work formed the basis of fundamental insights into the mechanisms of inflammation and host defense. His research, which has generated more than $230 million in major program grant funding and eight patents, helped define the molecular pathways regulating vascular barrier leakiness in pathologies of sepsis, thrombosis and angiogenesis.
In a 1990 Journal of Clinical Investigation paper, Malik reported the discovery of protein kinases as components of the signaling machinery regulating the function of cell-cell adhesion complexes. He described for the first time that disruption of these complexes results in key hallmarks of inflammation, and that drugs that inhibit specific signaling pathways could help patients suffering from vascular injury.
Malik’s work on neutrophil migration identified novel regulatory pathways allowing targeted therapies and tissue repair in inflammatory diseases, and his recent work on specific cationic channels in endothelial cells and nanoparticles has invigorated the search for anti-inflammatory nanomedicines.
In addition to being department chair and professor, Malik also serves as director of UIC’s Center of Lung Vascular Biology, which has become nationally recognized for research excellence.
This is not the first award Malik has received from the American Thoracic Association. In 2007, the organization bestowed its Distinguished Research Achievement Award on the UIC researcher.