Award-winning nursing educator studies risk factors for asthma

Kamal Eldeirawi

Kamal Eldeirawi. Photo: Jenyu Wang 

Kamal Eldeirawi, assistant professor of health systems science, is one of 12 educators in the country to be named a Nurse Faculty Scholar by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The award is presented to junior faculty who show outstanding promise as future leaders in academic nursing.

Eldeirawi receives a three-year, $350,000 award to promote his academic career and support his research. He will use the grant to extend his research on risk factors for asthma and other respiratory ailments, especially in minority and immigrant populations.

He plans to link previously collected personal data on more than 2,000 Mexican-American children from Chicago with neighborhood information to examine the association of neighborhood social and physical environments with asthma risk.

The goal, he says, is to determine whether these relationships are explained or modified by individual-level characteristics such as immigration status or acculturation.

Asthma affects more than 10 million children in the U.S., with significant differences among Mexican-Americans. Eldeirawi’s previous research found that Mexican-American children born in the U.S. have more than twice the risk of asthma compared with their Mexican-born peers. Their respiratory-health profile worsens significantly with acculturation and length of residence in the U.S.

Variables examined previously by Eldeirawi and other researchers do not fully explain these disparities. Recent evidence suggests that both neighborhood and personal variables play a role in asthma.

“This award provides a wonderful opportunity to advance our understanding of how neighborhood physical and social environments contribute to the risk of asthma in Mexican-American children and other populations as well,” Eldeirawi said.

“I am ecstatic to be one of the researchers selected.”