Chiesi Chair on the Role of Environmental Factors in Asthma Development


Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease characterised by shortness of breath, coughing, hyperresponsiveness of the airways, and variable airflow obstruction. Asthma affects around 300 million people worldwide, and comes with a significant economic cost of €72 billion per year. Asthma is heterogenous, with different phenotypes that are distinguished depending on age, the presence of allergies, the type of airway obstruction, and the seriousness of the disease. Both genetic determinants as well as environmental exposure (for example allergens, air pollutants, viral triggers) can have affect the development or aggravation of asthma. Airway inflammation in asthma is classified as eosinophilic, neutrophilic, mixed granulocytic, or paucigranulocytic, based on induced sputum cell counts. Although we have learnt a lot in recent years about the role of eosinophilic airway inflammation in asthma, we know less about other endotypes such as neutrophilic airway inflammation. Both indoor air pollution (e.g. cigarette smoke) as well as outdoor air pollution (e.g. fine dust particles) can have an impact on the pattern of inflammation in asthma patients.


The aim of the chair is to study the role of environmental factors (indoor and outdoor pollution) on eosinophilic and neutrophilic airway inflammation, and to shed more light on the interaction between allergens and environmental factors (cigarette smoke, air pollution due to fine dust particles...) in the development of airway inflammation and bronchial hyperresponsiveness.








prof. Tania MaesProfessor Tania Maes received her Master’s in Biotechnology at Ghent University (1994). After completing a doctorate in Biotechnology (Plant genetics Laboratory, Faculty of Sciences, Ghent University), she started postdoctoral work at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences in the Department of Lung diseases (Ghent University). Since 2015 she has been associate professor in the Department of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics within the Department of Lung diseases, at Ghent University. Her research focuses on the effects of environmental factors (indoor and outdoor air pollution and allergens) on the development of asthma. 

Tania Maes is co-author of 71 A1 publications and has a Hirsch index of 30 (Web of Science). She is an active member of the European Respiratory Society (ERS) and is part of the steering committee of the “Basic Science group” of the Belgian Respiratory Society (BeRS).