Asthma Lung Immunology
There is an asthma epidemic underway in the United States and most other developed countries. Current thinking is that this epidemic is caused by environmental exposures (e.g., to air pollution or respiratory viral infections) in genetically susceptible individuals. An active Asthma Research Program is underway in the Pulmonary Division, with an emphasis on how environmental exposures influence allergic immune responses in the lung. Asthma research encompasses both human translational studies as well as basic science studies using human cells and mouse models of allergic airway inflammation.
Human translational asthma research is supported by the Parkes Family foundation, as well as individual Division investigators. The Parkes family founded the Mary Parkes Asthma Center, which became affiliated with the Pulmonary Division in 1995. We started a Severe Asthma Clinic in 2007 with the goal of providing expert evidenced-based care using non-invasive biomarkers to guide therapy and accelerate research. The Severe Asthma Clinic is staffed by Drs. Michael Larj, Sandhya Khurana, and the Mary Parkes Asthma Research Fellow.
A major theme of basic asthma research is to define the cellular and molecular mechanisms for dysregulated immune responses in asthma. Specific areas of interest include: (i) activation of lung dendritic cells by ambient air pollution and allergen particles, (ii) the role of transcription factors in T cell activation and allergic immune responses, and (iii) molecular mechanisms regulating oxidative stress. Laboratory-based investigators include Dr. Steve Georas, Dr. Jia Guo, Dr. Tiru Rangasamy, and Dr. Tom Thatcher. Division investigators collaborate widely including with members of the Lung Biology program in these and other endeavors.