Cystic fibrosis expert urges lung health checks

Clinical researcher, Dr Elena Schneider-Futschik, warns students and colleagues not to dismiss breathlessness, fatigue and cough as winter woes.

May marks Lung Health Awareness Month and is the ideal time to prioritise looking after your lungs, says Dr Schneider-Futschik, of the Department of Biochemistry and Pharmacology.

The Laboratory Head and National Health and Medical Research Council Peter Doherty Fellow says, almost half of Australians rarely or never think about their lung health.

“Symptoms of lung disease can creep up slowly and are often overlooked as lack of fitness and ageing. But breathlessness, persistent cough and fatigue can be signs of something more serious,” she says.

Lung disease and lung cancer affects almost one in three Australians, according to Lung Foundation Australia, while one in 25 Australians carry the cystic fibrosis (CF) gene – Dr Schneider-Futschik’s area of expertise.

The clinical researcher is pursuing her long-term career goal to make pioneering break-through discoveries in the treatment and management of CF, which primarily affects the lungs and digestive system.

Her work is particularly important because CF is a life limiting disease caused by defective or deficient cystic fibrosis trans-membrane conductance regulator (CFTR) activity.

The recent approval of CFTR modulator drugs targets the majority of CF patients with a certain CFTR-mutation.

“Our innovative research program seeks to identify how these drugs move, work and interact in the human body, and uses this information to optimise efficacy,” explains Dr Schneider-Futschik.

Her innovative systems pharmacology project will have a significant potential in improving clinical practice worldwide.

Take two minutes to check your lung health and encourage your friends and family to do the same at

Learn more about Dr Schneider-Futschik’s research:

Meet our talent