Our division engages in both interventional and observational studies. Each clinical trial has its own set of inclusion/exclusion criteria for recruitment.
Clinical Research Focus Areas
Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD) is the lack of a protein made by the liver that’s released into the bloodstream. AATD is a genetic disease that can affect the liver or lung. The alpha-1 protein is designed to protect tissues in the body from being attacked by its own enzymes.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is an umbrella term used to describe progressive lung diseases including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and refractory (non-reversible) asthma. This disease is characterized by increasing breathlessness.
Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is an inherited disease that affects the lung, digestive system, sweat glands, & male fertility. Because CF is genetic, clinical research is the only way to develop better treatments and, hopefully, a cure for CF in the near future.
Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) is a form of interstitial lung disease that results in scarring of the lungs. The cause of the scarring (fibrosis) is not known, and the damage makes it difficult for the patient to take in oxygen.
Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension affects people of all ages and races, and there are some risk factors for this disease. Some of these include connective tissue disease (scleroderma in particular), sickle cell disease, congenital heart disease and liver disease. There are many conditions that lead to pulmonary hypertension and there are many different types of the disease.
Dr. Brantly’s laboratory specializes in alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, which manifests mainly as lung and liver injury. Studies are centralized around characterization of alveolar macrophage function, hepatic fibrosis, gastrointestinal microbiota, and extracellular vesicles. We are interested in understanding how misfolded alpha-1 protein affects cellular signaling and degradation machinery.
Dr. Bryant’s lab is interested in understanding the impact that immune cells play in patients with pulmonary hypertension. We primarily use pre-clinical models of high blood pressure in the lungs to determine how inflammation contributes to changes in pulmonary vasculature. Our hope is that this work will yield novel targets for drug therapies, especially in those patients with pulmonary hypertension secondary to chronic lung disease such as interstitial lung disease.
Dr. Jin’s lab has a keen interest in understanding the in vivo mechanism of lung mucosal tolerance and developing new therapeutics for chronic lung diseases, e.g asthma and COPD that are the 3rd leading cause of death in the U.S. Dr. Jin’s lab is also interested in understanding how common human STING genetic variants influence human health and medicine.
Dr. Mehrad’s lab specializes in Interstitial lung diseases; a heterogeneous group of lung diseases defined by chronic inflammation and fibrosis. The lab has 3 main areas of focus 1) Fibrocytes 2) Host defense mechanisms in invasive aspergillosis (3) Experimental therapy for Gram-negative bacterial infections.
Dr. Schaller’s lab studies the interactions between immune cells and pathogens that occur in the lung, with a particular interest in Mycobacterium Tuberculosis infection. Over 1/3 of the world’s population is infected with M. tb and there is no vaccine available that can sterilize the infection. Understanding the immune response to this pathogen is key to the development of new vaccines and treatments for this chronic condition.
Pulmonary division Research Laboratories have over 10,000 sq.ft. of research space, both at the VA Hospital and at other university facilities. They are equipped with state-of-the-art equipments, including computers and confocal microscopy.