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Pulmonary and Cardiovascular Diseases


The EHSC has a long history of making significant advances in the understanding of lung function and diseases induced by airborne toxicants. This program brings together a multidisciplinary group of basic and clinical scientists whose research focuses on the impact of several types of environmental agents on cardiopulmonary health. Some of these agents include ambient and occupational particulates, oxidant gases, ionizing radiation, and engineered nanoparticles.

Research Focus Groups

Chronic Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Focus Group

Research performed by this group is directed at the causes, mechanisms, and preventive and intervention measures of COPD, lung fibrosis and asthma. The research strategy involves the use of rodent and in vitro models to uncover disease mechanisms, with the goal of identifying molecular targets for therapy to be tested in clinical studies.

Ambient Particulate Matter (PM) and Extrapulmonary Disease Focus Group

Research in this group focuses on the potential of inhaled PM to induce effects/diseases in organs, particularly the cardiovascular system and the Central Nervous System (CNS). Evidence from epidemiological studies and from controlled clinical and animal studies suggests that inhaled particles, notably fine (<2.5 µm) and also ultrafine (<100 nm) particles, adversely affect the cardiovascular system. This group is also investigating PM-induced effects in the CNS. The CNS has received greater attention as a target, in part based on our finding of ultrafine particle translocation from the nose to the olfactory bulb along olfactory neurons. These studies involving both pathways to the CNS as well as inflammatory and neurodegenerative effects are a major effort involving collaborations with members of the Neurodevelopmental Disorders & Neurodegenerative Diseases Program.

Developmental Aspects of Pulmonary Diseases Focus Group

This group studies how early exposure to pollutants may increase vulnerability of the adult respiratory tract. Research is directed at identifying mechanisms of lung injury, such as altered immune responses and increased pathogen susceptibility. Studies are designed and carried out in a collaboration of basic scientists and clinicians with a strong emphasis on translational research.

Engineered Nanoparticle-induced Disease Focus Group

Engineered nanoparticles (NPs) have become a major focus of toxicological research of this group. Although the toxicology of inhaled NPs is the primary focus of this group, other exposure routes are considered, and a wider multi-disciplinary team has been formed consisting of clinical and materials scientists. This cross-disciplinary approach is essential to investigate the biokinetics, effects, and underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms of NPs.