Faculty Research

 

Benjamin W. Van Voorhees, MD, MPH

Benjamin W. Van Voorhees, MD, MPH, is Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics; Interim Head, Department of Pediatrics; Chief, Division of Pediatrics & Development; Director, TIKES Center; and Project Director, CHECK Grant.
Dr. Van Voorhees’s research focuses on five core areas: (1) intervention development, (2) clinical epidemiology, (3) health services and attitudinal research, (4) community based clinical trials of primary care/Internet-based interventions, and (5) reduction of health disparities through primary care based interventions. He has received funding from National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the National Institutes for Mental Health for the development and clinical trials of his primary care/internet-based depression prevention interventions, CATCH-IT (Competent Adulthood Transition with Cognitive, Humanistic, and Interpersonal Training) and CURB (Chicago Urban Resiliency Building). In addition, he is currently directing the development of several research projects through a $19.6 million grant recently awarded by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services for the launch of the CHECK (Coordination of HEalthcare for Complex Kids) program, which is designed to manage the healthcare of over 6,000 children in Cook County ages 0-25 with complex medical issues like asthma, depression, diabetes, and sickle cell. (More information about CHECK can be found at the end of this section.)

For publications, please visit
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Van+Voorhees+B

CHECK Grant: The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently awarded the University of Illinois a $19.6 million grant for three years to develop and launch a comprehensive medical care model for children and young adults with chronic conditions. Under the project direction of Dr. Van Voorhees and Dr. Raj, along with Dr. Martin as the Medical Director, the Coordination of HEalthcare for Complex Kids (CHECK) Program offers an opportunity to improve care for populations with specialized needs. It manages the healthcare of over 6,000 children in Cook County ages 0-25 with complex medical issues like asthma, depression, diabetes and sickle cell. The CHECK Program is designed to provide a holistic, community-based care model that recognizes the broad range of medical, behavioral, and social factors that impact the health of children and young adults. Key aims include:

  1. Reducing healthcare costs by preventing unnecessary ER visits and improving coordination of care across providers and families.
  2. Reducing school absentee rate by reducing episodes of illness that require school absence and expanding links to community resources and social services.
  3. Enhancing patient and family engagement by promoting self-management, improving communication with providers, and providing transportation and easier access to scheduling services.
 
Ramin
 

Ramin Alemzadeh, MD

Ramin Alemzadeh, MD, is Professor of Pediatrics; Chief, Division of Endocrinology; Director, Pediatric Diabetes Center; and Associate Training Program Director, Fellowship (Endocrinology).
Dr. Alemzadeh is the principal investigator for multi-center NIH-funded TrialNet for the study type 1 diabetes at UIC. Other attention has been directed to his research on the relationship between polycystic ovary syndrome and cardiometabolic syndrome in obese adolescent girls, and the role of parathyroid hormone in mediating low-grade inflammation and cardiometabolic disease in obese adolescents. His study on the relationship of vitamin D in obese children and adolescents with such factors as insulin sensitivity and ethnicity was one/ of the top 10 cited papers in 2008 in “Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental.”

For publications, please visit
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Alemzadeh+R

 
Sachin   

Sachin Amin, MD

Sachin Amin, MD, is Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics in the Division of Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine; and Associate Medical Director of the NICU.
The research interests of Dr. Amin include clinically oriented NICU research in neonatal gastroenterology, necrotizing enterocolitis, and neonatal short bowel syndrome. Among his current research projects, he is the subcontract PI for the PENUT Trial, which is NINDS funded by the University of Washington. This trial is designed to test the efficacy of erythropoietin (Epo) for the neuroprotection of extremely premature infants. The aim of this trial is to assess whether early high dose Epo will improve survival without neurodevelopmental impairment (NDI) in infants born between 24 and 28 weeks of gestation. At 17 centers across the United States, 940 preterm infants will be enrolled who will then be assessed at 2 years of age to see whether their neurodevelopmental outcomes were improved by Epo treatment.

For publications, please visit
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Sachin+Amin

 
 Chauhan  

Neelima Chauhan PhD

Neelima Chauhan, PhD, is Associate Research Professor, Division of Development Biology & Basic Research, and Health Scientist, Jesse Brown VA Medical Center (Chicago).
Dr. Chauhan’s research interests are aimed at promoting repair of degenerated neurons under pathological conditions, Alzheimer’s disease, and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), in particular, by interventional strategies. Specifically, she is interested in evaluating intracerebroventricular passive immunization with anti-A antibodies for clearing pre-existing plaque-load in Alzheimer’s transgenic animal models. A further interest is in preventing de novo plaque formation by antisense strategies, NGF-receptor activation, and dietary interventions with statins and aged garlic extract in combination to passive immunization in Alzheimer’s transgenic animal models. Goals include understanding the mechanisms underlying TBI pathogenesis, as well as evaluating clinical/translational efficacy of statins and Phosphodiesterase inhibitors in TBI models.

For publications, please visit
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Chauhan+NB

 
 

Eunice John, MD

Eunice G. John, MD, is Professor of Pediatrics; Chief, Division of Nephrology; and Director, Pediatric Transplant Program. Dr. John’s research is focused on:
1. Long term changes in renal function in pediatric renal transplant patients on steroid free protocol and in living related small bowel transplant patients.
2. Incidence of metabolic syndrome in pediatric renal transplant patients with and without steroid medication and its impact on long-term renal graft function.
3. Correction of anemia in pediatric end stage renal disease patients with aranesp (long-acting epogen) given once in 2 weeks in children (funded by Amgen).
4. Progression of chronic kidney disease in pediatric patients (CKiD) (NIH funded, 2010-18 multicenter studies).
5. Incidence of morbidity of viral infections in pediatric renal and living related small bowel transplant patients.
6. Long-term proteonomics profile in pediatric patients with obstructive uropathy to detect kidney injury (funding application has been submitted).
7. Renal dysfunction and strategy to prevent chronic kidney disease in obese children (funding application has been submitted).
8. The effect of sepsis on renal function in newborn piglets during ontogeny or development (funded by UIC Department of Surgery to train pediatric surgery residents in basic research).
9. Treatment of reperfusion injury in piglet model (funded by Illinois transplant association).

For publications, please visit
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=John+EG

 
Harijith
 

Anantha Harijith, MD

Anantha Harijith, MD, is Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine; and Co-Assistant Director, Neonatology Fellowship Program.
The research interests of Dr. Harijith are in the areas of Acute Lung Injury (ALI) and Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia (BPD). He is studying the role of Sphingolipid signaling in hyperoxia-induced disruption of lung development, under the mentorship of Dr. Viswanathan Natarajan. He is currently involved in the followings areas of investigation using cell systems and genetic models: (1) Mechanisms by which Sphingosine Kinase signaling affects generation of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS), (2) mechanisms by which ROS could affect formation of alveoli in BPD, and (3) the study of NADPH oxidases functions and their relationship with Sphingolipid signaling pathways in mediating ROS-induced lung injury and BPD. His goal is to understand the pathogenic mechanisms of BPD and to develop novel approaches to mitigate the chronic lung disease. The research of Dr. Harijith in lung development, particularly bronchopulmonary dysplasia, has been presented at various conferences at the national level including the Society for Pediatric Research and American Thoracic Society. His project titled “PF-543, a Novel Drug to Treat Oxidative Lung Injury,” was a Fall 2014 Proof-of-Concept Award Program Winner.

For publications, please visit
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=harijith+a

 
Karen
 

Karen C. Hayani, MD

Karen C. Hayani, MD, is Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics; and Chief, Division of Infectious Disease.
Dr. Hayani is involved in clinical research with HIV infected women and their HIV exposed infants. She is a co-investigator for the UIC site of the SMARTT protocol (Surveillance Monitoring for ART Toxicities) of the multicenter study entitled PHACS (Pediatric HIV/AIDS Cohort Study). The study follows infants and children who were born to HIV positive mothers and who, although they themselves are not HIV-infected, were exposed to potent antiretroviral therapy in utero. The goal is to determine whether or not these children demonstrate side effects of exposure to medications in utero. Dr. Hayani is responsible for overseeing recruitment, retention, and obtaining of data from participants, as well as for providing their clinical care. Additional substudies are carried out using the PHACS infrastructure. For example, a study was done of maternal nutrition during pregnancy and infant nutritional and growth outcome to determine the effect of intrauterine maternal tenofovir use and its influence on bone metabolism and mineral deposition.

For publications, please visit
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Hayani+KC

 
Lewis Hsu
 

Lewis Hsu, MD, PhD

Lewis Hsu, MD, PhD, is Professor of Clinical Pediatrics; Associate Chief, Division of Hematology/Oncology; and Director, Pediatric Sickle Cell Program.
Dr. Hsu has experience with clinical and translational research in sickle cell disease, including clinical research on pain assessment and management of children hospitalized with sickle cell pain. He participates in NIH-funded clinical trials networks and other multidisciplinary research. Working closely with adult hematology, he is building a comprehensive program for pediatric-adult comprehensive sickle cell centers across the lifespan, developing clinical guidelines regional consortia. He is now gaining experience with PCORI in the CAPriCORN project to build a data sharing infrastructure across Chicago, as co-chair of the working group on sickle cell and nurturing community participation in research.

For publications, please visit
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=hsu+ll

 
Kumar
 

Harsha Kumar, MD

Harsha Kumar, MD, is Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics; Chief, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy-Immunology, Sleep; and Associate Medical Director, Child & Youth Center.
His main research interests are asthma and pediatric obstructive sleep apnea. Dr. Kumar is the lead pediatric investigator at the University of Illinois at Chicago for NIH funded AsthmaNet Studies, and a co-chair for the asthma working group for Chicago Area Patient Centered Outcomes Research Network (CAPriCORN). He was awarded a PCORI grant to establish a Clinical Data Research Network. Dr. Kumar is also a medical director for an asthma cohort CHECK program called Coordination of HEalthcare for Complex Kids, in which he seeks to provide comprehensive, community-based care to 6,000 children and young adults covered by Medicaid in Cook County, Illinois. CHECK is a Center for Medicaid & Medicare Services (CMS) funded program.

 
Molly
 

Molly Martin, MD, MAPP

Molly Martin, MD, MAPP, is Associate Professor; Division of General Pediatrics and Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics; and Associate Head of Clinical Research, Department of Pediatrics. She also has a research appointment in the UIC Institute for Health Research & Policy.
Dr. Martin’s research focuses on community models to improve health, specifically the community health worker model. She is particularly interested in Latino health, and in asthma and obesity in children. Dr. Martin has been the principal investigator on several NIH-funded projects, the most recent of which explores interventions for children with both asthma and obesity. She is a current investigator on the CHICAGO Trial (Coordinated Healthcare Interventions for Childhood Asthma Gaps in Outcomes), which is a PCORI-funded initiative targeting pediatric asthma; and on the MATCH 2 Trial (Multi-clinic Action Trial to Control Hyperglycemia and Hypertension), which tests a community health worker intervention for diabetes control. She also serves as Medical Director for Coordination of HEalthcare for Complex Kids (CHECK), which received a large Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Health Care Innovations Award.

For publications, please visit http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Martin%20MA%5BAuthor%5D&cauthor=true&cauthor_uid=25162304

 
Osta
 

Amanda Osta, MD

Amanda Osta, MD, is Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics; Chief, Division of Education; and Director, Pediatric Residency Program.
The research interests of Dr. Osta include pediatric resident education and curricular development. She is working to create a national curriculum to teach pediatric residents about the impact of poverty on child health. In addition, she has contributed to the development of a national resilience and wellness curriculum for pediatric residents. She is a participant in the Association of Pediatric Program Directors Longitudinal Educational Assessment Research Network (APPD LEARN).

For publications, please visit
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Osta+AD

 

 

Ramaswamy Ramchandran, PhD

Ramaswamy Ramchandran, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Research, in the Division of Developmental Biology & Basic Research.
His research interests are in developmental pulmonary vascular biology in health and diseases of the neonate. Dr. Ramchandran’s current research focuses on two related areas: (1) To understand the normal physiological mechanisms that control vasomotor tone in the fetal and neonatal pulmonary circulations with regards to the nitric oxide/cGMP dependant vasodilatory signaling pathway, and (2) pulmonary hypertension in the neonate: role of growth factors in the regulation of pulmonary vascular tone, vascular remodeling and pathogenesis of pulmonary hypertension. He is a participant in the Association of Pediatric Program Directors Longitudinal Educational Assessment Research Network (APPD LEARN). Other Department of Pediatrics faculty in his collaborative network include Dr.Usha Raj, Dr. Sekhar Reddy, and Dr. Anantha Harijith.

For publications, please visit http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Ramchandran+R

 
Raj
 

J. Usha Raj, MD

J. Usha Raj, MD, is the Anjuli S. Nayak Professor of Pediatrics.
Her research interests have been in Developmental Pulmonary Vascular Biology, and her laboratory has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health for over 28 years. As head of the Developmental Pulmonary Biology Research Group at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Dr. Raj is studying the mechanisms that control the pulmonary circulation in the fetus and newborn, and is trying to understand why some babies develop problems related to the lung blood vessels while others do not. Her work has established and defined the very important role of pulmonary veins in regulation of microvascular pressures, fluid filtration, and blood flow in the fetal and neonatal lungs. Another important contribution has been the discovery of an important role for platelet activating factor in the normal physiological regulation of pulmonary vasomotor tone in the developing lung. The contribution of this vasoactive compound and growth factor in the pathogenesis of chronic hypoxia-induced pulmonary hypertension is being currently studied. Her laboratory has identified the very important role of cGMP dependent protein kinase and its mechanisms of action on the pulmonary vasculature during the transition from fetal to neonatal life. And more recently, her group has identified a unique role for reactive species in protein modification and vascular function in the transition from fetal to neonatal pulmonary circulation. She served as a regular member on the National institutes of Health, Study Section LBPA and RIBT and as Chairman of a Special Study Section for the NIH.

For publications, please visit
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Raj+JU

 

 

Narsa Reddy, PhD

Narsa Reddy, PhD, is Assistant Research Professor, Division of Development Biology & Basic Research.
His research interests include understanding the regulatory mechanisms of lung injury repair, especially the role Nrf2 transcription factor, the master regulator of antioxidant defense, in regulating tissue injury repair and inflammatory responses. He and his colleagues found that Nrf2 protects lungs from oxidative stress and subsequent infections, and promotes the resolution of lung injury and injury repair using preclinical acute lung injury mouse models. Dr. Reddy and his colleagues have identified that c-Jun/AP1 transcription factor signaling is impaired in COPD patients and loss of c-Jun is correlated with severity of disease. By using conditional knockout mouse models, they established the mechanisms of cJun mediated protection in COPD disease progression and cigarette smoke induced lung inflammation. Since excessive cell death and defective clearance of dead cells are the major contributors of lung pathogenesis, currently they are studying the Nrf2 regulated mechanisms in cell death and clearance of dead cells in acute lung injury and BPD mouse models.

For publications, please visit
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Reddy+NM

 
Sekhar
 

Sekhar P. Reddy, PhD

Sekhar P. Reddy, PhD, is Professor of Pediatrics; Chief, Division of Development Biology & Basic Research; and Associate Head of Basic Research, Department of Pediatrics.
Dr. Reddy is actively involved in NIH-funded research in acute lung injury and lung pathogenesis. The focus is Host-Defense Response during Acute Lung Injury and Repair, especially the role of redox imbalance in the dysregulated inflammatory response and abnormal resolution of lung inflammation and injury in neonates and adults. His laboratory found that disruption of the crucial oxidative stress modifier, the Nrf2 transcription factor, impairs the resolution of hyperoxic lung injury, leading to defective tissue repair and persistent inflammation as well as promoting susceptibility to bacterial infection. He also studies the functions of AP-1 (c-Jun and Fra-1) signaling in resolving lung inflammation and injury, and in modulating emphysema and cancer. Projects include:

  1. Mechanisms of regulation and functions of both inflammatory and lung cell type specific Nrf2-mediated redox signaling during lung injury and repair and infection using conditional knockout mouse models and primary cultures.
  2. Interplay between Nrf2 and Fra-1/AP-1 transcription factor in the modulation of abnormal vascular and epithelial repair after tissue injury using genetic and knockdown approaches in vivo and in vitro.
  3. Regulation and functions of Jun/Fra-1 signaling in cigarette smoke-induced emphysema and lung cancer.

For publications, please visit
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Reddy+SP

 
Rich
 

Kenneth Rich, MD

Kenneth Rich, MD, is Professor of Pediatrics.
The focus of his research is Perinatal HIV-1 infection’s natural history; pediatric and perinatal HIV-1 treatment and prevention studies; and immune function in pregnant women who are HIV-1 infected and women who are uninfected. He has published extensively in the area of Pediatric HIV/AIDS, as well as drug use, immunodeficiency, and other topics. He is also the Co-PI of the national PHACS study and protocol chair of the SMARTT study.

For publications, please visit
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Rich+K

 
Angela
 

Angela Rivers, MD, PhD

Angela Rivers, MD, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, Division of Hematology/Oncology; and director, Sickle Cell Transition Adolescent-Adult Readiness Clinic (STAR) program.
Her research interests focus on the Adeno Associated Virus as a vector for gene therapy in sickle cell disease, and she has received NIH K08 funding for lab research inducers of fetal hemoglobin. The research (K01 HL103172-01, NIH/ NIHLBI) led by Dr. Rivers focuses on AAV capsid engineering to facilitate expression of therapeutic levels of beta-globin in mouse hematopoietic stem cells. Because everyone is not a candidate for transplantation, successful treatment for sickle cell disease needs to include the development of therapeutic options beside hydroxyurea. Under the mentorship of Dr. Don Lavelle and Dr. Joseph De Simone at the University of Illinois Chicago, the research of Dr. Rivers also focuses on the possible phenotypic correction of sickle disease by induction of hemoglobin F with the combination treatment of Decitabine and novel drugs.

For publications, please visit
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=rivers+ae

 
Mary Lou
 

Mary Lou Schmidt, MD

Mary Lou Schmidt, MD, is Professor of Pediatrics; Chief, Division of Hematology/Oncology; Training Program Director, UIC/Rush/Stroger Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Fellowship Program.
The research of Dr. Schmidt, who is Principal Investigator of the UIC/Rush/Stroger Children’s Oncology Group (COG) Clinical Trials Program, is focused on: (1) COG clinical trials; (2) COG non-high risk neuroblastoma clinical trials -- health-related quality-of-life in survivors of neuroblastoma (supported by the American Cancer Society); and (3) medical ethics, including end-of-life issues. As PI, Dr. Schmidt led the application process and merger of the UIC/Rush/Stroger COG Clinical Trials Program, a unique program created in 2008 to provide access to state-of-the-art COG clinical trials. By including the three major medical centers in the Illinois Medical District, a much broader and more diverse patient population with pediatric malignancies are able to enroll in COG cancer clinical trials. Since the formation of this program, enrollments have increased substantially from n=26 (18% among 250 COG institutions) in 2008 to n=120 in 2014 (78% among 250 COG institutions), making the UIC Rush Stroger COG Clinical Trials Program the fastest growing and second-highest enrolling program among the six COG programs in Chicago. Funding supports the research portion of the salaries for the PI, two advanced practice nurses, three clinical research associates, and the pediatric oncology social worker. External funding includes: St. Baldrick’s Foundation, Children’s Oncology Group, Hyundai Hope on Wheels, B+ Foundation, and Rally Foundation.

For publications, please visit
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=schmidt+ml

 
Shah
 

Reshma Shah, MD

Reshma Shah, MD, is Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, Division of Developmental Pediatrics.
Dr. Shah’s research is focused on improving developmental and educational outcomes for vulnerable populations. Dr. Shah specifically seeks to develop and evaluate innovative primary care strategies to improve early child development for economically disadvantaged families through brief, but effective, parent-directed interventions. Her past research work has included examining pediatricians’ practice patterns in caring for children with educational difficulties and identifying barriers to their ability to provide comprehensive care to children who require special education services. She has been awarded the Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS) Professional Development Scholar Mentored Career Development Award (NIH UL1TR000050) to support her research work.

For publications, please visit
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Reshma+Shah

 
Yoshii
 

Akira Yoshii, MD, PhD

Akira Yoshii, MD, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Neurology.
Dr. Yoshii is a medical researcher who is also trained in pediatric neurology and neonatal neurology. His research interests include: (1) activity dependent synapse formation and synaptic plasticity of glutamate synapse, (2) mechanisms that regulate trafficking and palmitoylation of synaptic proteins, and (3) cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying neurodevelopmental disorders including tuberous sclerosis complex and autism. Examples of research grant support include NARSAD Young Investigator Award, DoD TSCRP Career Transition Award, and Whitehall Foundation Research Grant.

For publications, please visit
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?cmd=PureSearch&term=YOSHII%20AKIRA%5bAuthor%5d

 
 

Guofei Zhou, PhD

Guofei Zhou, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Pediatrics; Associate Chief, Division of Development Biology & Basic Research. He also serves on the Curriculum Committee and Faculty Academic Advancement Committee of College of Medicine.
Dr. Zhou is studying the molecular mechanisms controlling the behavior of lung fibroblasts and pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells and their implication in the pathogenesis of pulmonary fibrosis and pulmonary hypertension. His lab is actively pursuing the following areas of research: (1) Functions of Adenosine Monophosphate Protein Kinase (AMPK) in pulmonary artery smooth muscle cell survival and proliferation; and (2) role of the miR-17~92/PDLIM5 signaling pathway in pulmonary fibrosis. He is also piloting a PDLIM5- targeted drug discovery program in collaboration with the UI Center for the Treatment of Pulmonary Fibrosis and Pulmonary Hypertension. He also is now in partnership with the UIC Office of Technology Management regarding his research discovery entitled “A Cell-Based High Throughput Screen Assay System for Respiratory Diseases Drug Discovery.” His research is funded by the Parker B. Francis Family foundation, NIH, American Lung Associatiown, Pulmonary Hypertension Association, and Gilead Sciences.

For publications, please visit
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Zhang+W

 
 

Department's Basic Pulmonary Research

The department’s basic pulmonary research primarily focuses on understanding the cellular and molecular basis of lung disease in adulthood that has its origins in the fetus and newborns using preclinical models of acute and chronic lung diseases, as well as clinical samples. 

Dr. J. Usha Raj’s research interests are in the area of Developmental Pulmonary Vascular Biology and Pulmonary Hypertension. Her lab is studying the normal physiological mechanisms that control the pulmonary circulation in the fetus and newborn. She is also studying the mechanisms of Pulmonary Hypertension both in the developing and adult lung. Her laboratory is currently involved in the followings areas of investigation:

  1. Mechanisms by which cGMP-dependent protein kinase activity undergoes post-translational modification in hypoxia and becomes inactive, in a reversible manner, using fetal and newborn lamb models.
  2. Investigating the role of the miRNA cluster 17~92 in the pathogenesis of pulmonary hypertension in the adults using genetic models and human tissues.
  3. The study of epigenetic phenomenon induced by perinatal hypoxia that predispose to the development of pulmonary hypertension in adult life using a mouse model.

All her studies are related to the biology of the smooth muscle cell in the pulmonary vasculature, particularly the factors that regulate vasomotor tone as well as cell proliferation and phenotype maintenance.

 

Dr. Reddy’s research focuses on Host-Defense Response during Acute Lung Injury and Repair, especially the role of redox imbalance in the dysregulated inflammatory response and abnormal resolution of lung inflammation and injury in neonates and adults. His laboratory found that disruption of the crucial oxidative stress modifier, the Nrf2 transcription factor, impairs the resolution of hyperoxic lung injury, leading to defective tissue repair and persistent inflammation as well as promoting susceptibility to bacterial infection. He also studies the functions of AP-1 (c-Jun and Fra-1) signaling in resolving lung inflammation and injury, and in modulating emphysema and cancer. His ongoing research focus on:

  1. Mechanisms of regulation and functions of both inflammatory and lung cell type specific Nrf2-mediated redox signaling during lung injury and repair and infection using conditional knockout mouse models and primary cultures.
  2. Understanding the interplay between Nrf2 and Fra-1/AP-1 transcription factor in the modulation of abnormal vascular and epithelial repair after tissue injury using genetic and knockdown approaches in vivo and in vitro.
  3. Studying the regulation and functions of Jun/Fra-1 signaling in cigarette smoke-induced emphysema and lung cancer.

All his studies are to explore whether targeting of Nrf2 and AP-1 signaling pharmacologically will provide a promising approach to intervene and improve the outcomes of acute lung injury and lung pathogenesis in neonates and adults and using preclinical models and clinical samples ex-vivo.

 

Dr. Zhou is studying the roles of hypoxia signaling in the lung diseases. His lab is studying the molecular mechanisms controlling the behavior of interstitial lung fibroblasts and pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells and their implication in the pathogenesis of pulmonary fibrosis and pulmonary hypertension. His lab is actively pursuing the following area of research:

  1. The role of the von Hippel Lindau (VHL) protein in pulmonary fibrosis. VHL is a component of E3 ligase, which regulates HIF signaling, a key element in cellular adaptation to hypoxia. His laboratory found that expression of VHL is elevated in fibrotic tissues and loss of VHL prevents fibroblast proliferation and development of fibrosis in an experimental mouse model. His laboratory is particularly interested in how VHL regulates cell matrix proteins in a HIF independent pathway to regulate lung fibroblast proliferation, migration and differentiation.
  2. Functions of Adenosine Monophosphate Protein Kinase (AMPK) in pulmonary artery smooth muscle cell survival and proliferation during the development of pulmonary hypertension. Dr. Zhou’s laboratory has shown that AMPK is activated in pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells of patients with pulmonary hypertension and experimental hypertensive mice. They also found that inhibition of AMPK causes the death of pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells when exposed to hypoxia. His research is focusing on elucidating the molecular mechanisms underlying AMPK-mediated cell survival.

He is also exploring to target these two proteins to develop novel approaches for the treatment of patients with pulmonary fibrosis and pulmonary hypertension. 

 

Dr. Harijith’s research interests are in the area of Acute Lung Injury (ALI) and Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia (BPD). He is studying the role of Sphingolipid signaling in hyperoxia-induced disruption of lung development, under the mentorship by Dr. Viswanathan Natarajan. He is currently involved in the followings areas of investigation using cell systems and genetic models:

  1. Mechanisms by which Sphingosine Kinase signaling affects generation of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS). 
  2. Mechanisms by which ROS could affect formation of alveoli in BPD.
  3. The study of NADPH oxidases functions and their relationship with Sphingolipid signaling pathways in mediating ROS-induced lung injury and BPD.

His goal is to understand the pathogenic mechanisms of BPD and to develop novel approaches to mitigate the chronic lung disease.