Kenneth Adler, a professor of cell biology at North Carolina State University who is researching a means of fighting the effects of asthma, cystic fibrosis and chronic bronchitis, has received a grant worth up to $4 million.

Adler is a professor in NCSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

Adler was recognized as a MERIT (Method to Extend Research in Time) award winner from the National Institutes of Health. The grant is worth $400,000 a year for up to a decade. MERIT winners are given to researchers who have “demonstrated a long-term commitment to and success in research.”

Fewer than 5 percent of NIH-supported investigators receive MERIT awards.

Alder and others at NCSU have developed a molecule that prevents mucus buildup in asthmatic mice. Alder said the research could lead to therapeutic treatments to fight so-called mucus hypersecretion occurs, including chronic bronchitis, asthma, and cystic fibrosis.

“I plan on using this award to develop procedures in my lab and increase my collaborative efforts with other researchers here and abroad to look at molecular and cell biology questions with what might be considered ‘high-risk, high-payoff’ types of experiments,” Adler said in a statement. “We’re specifically trying to understand the pathogenetic mechanisms of respiratory diseases so that novel types of therapeutic interventions might be developed.”