Premature infant morbidity and mortality often results from pulmonary complications, primarily insufficient lung maturation or alveolar formation. Likewise, many adult lung diseases involve obliteration of the distal respiratory structure. With the advent of clinical means to dramatically improve pre-term infant survival, there has been a growing appreciation of a relationship between developmental complications and susceptibility to chronic lung disease. The broad objectives of Dr. Mariani's laboratory are to identify the genetic mechanisms of susceptibility to chronic lung diseases, particularly focusing upon their developmental antecedents and the influence of environmental factors. Recent efforts have also investigated biomarkers and disease mechanisms involved in infant respiratory infection. Dr. Mariani's research program focuses upon defining regulatory networks involved in lung development and maturation, and which may be perturbed in diseased states. His laboratory uses a combination of animal modeling research and studies of human subjects. He is a leader in the application of genomics methods to pulmonary biology and lung disease.
Current Research Projects
- Studying immune cell dysregulation associated with chronic respiratory morbidity following preterm birth.
- Identifying diagnostic biomarkers and therapeutic targets defining severity of clinical responses to respiratory syncytial virus infection in infants.
- Determining the contribution of resident cells and the extracellular matrix to normal lung development, lung homeostasis and susceptibility to respiratory disease.
- Characterizing the cellular and pathological effects of exposure to non-traditional tobacco-related products, particularly during childhood.