Respiratory Health

Researchers in the Respiratory Health Axis work collaboratively to characterize the inflammatory nature of a wide range of respiratory diseases, including asthma, tuberculosis, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and the role of infection in chronic inflammatory respiratory diseases.

Asthma is perhaps the largest area of research within this axis, reflecting the increased prevalence of this disease, which now affects one in four children worldwide. The natural history of asthma is being addressed through an integrated program focusing on wheezing in children and its relationship to asthma in adulthood, development of allergy and antigen processing within the respiratory mucosa, and different mechanisms by which specific infections can affect exacerbation and impact treatment of the disease. Our researchers are also exploring new mechanisms that underlie persistent asthma in adults. New targets for therapy are being assessed in both animal models and human tissues, and the role of cytokines, leukotrienes and growth factors will soon become important areas of research for this group.

Investigations are ongoing to understand the biology and management of young adults with persistent lung complications from premature birth broncho-pulmonary dysplasia (BPD). This population presents a new emerging disease in adult respiratory medicine. Axis researchers are also focused on the care of young adults with chronic respiratory failure from neuro-muscular diseases. This research reflects advances in ventilatory and other support for this group of severely disabled children.

Respiratory Health Axis researchers use methodologies that include epidemiologic surveys, clinical trials, clinical research, geographic information systems, molecular epidemiology, and economic analyses. Translational research is paramount, and axis researchers strive to transfer new knowledge into clinical practice, including education of health professionals, and development and implementation of guidelines and clinical programs.