The Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, Sleep and Allergy has a very active portfolio of research projects, funded by the National Institutes of Health, PCORI, AHA, RHA, and various other private foundations or pharmaceutical companies.
Vascular Diseases of the lung
Viswanathan Natarajan, Steven Dudek, Jeffrey Jacobson, Irena Levitan, Gye Young Park, Patrick Belvitch, Sunit Singla, Dustin Fraidenburg
Acute Lung Injury/Respiratory Disease (ALI/ARDS)
The Acute Lung Injury/Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ALI/ARDS) is a devastating consequence of systemic inflammatory conditions such as sepsis that afflicts almost 200,000 people a year in the US with 75,000 deaths. The hallmark of ALI is inflammation-induced disruption of the endothelial cell (EC) barrier that lines the pulmonary vasculature, resulting in leakage of fluid, protein, and cells into the airspaces of the lung. Basic and translational studies of ALI/ARDS are one of the concentration areas in our Division: Steven Dudek, Jeffrey Jacobson, Viswanathan Natarajan, Gye Young Park, Patrick Belvitch, Sunit Singla, Dustin Fraidenburg
Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a chronic disease of multiple causes that leads to high blood pressure in the blood vessels of the lungs leading to severe and life-changing consequences including heart failure and death. The number of patients with PH in the United States is estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands, with many patients being still undiagnosed. In its more common forms PH occurs in patients with certain diseases of the heart, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and sickle cell disease and it is considered a major predictor of death in patients with these diseases. There are other less common forms of PH, known as pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) that can occur in healthy individuals and patients with diseases like scleroderma, congenital heart disease, liver disease and HIV infection. Although there are treatments available there is currently no cure for PAH and many patients die as a consequence of the disease. As such, there is a major need to better understand and to find new treatments for PAH. Several groups in our Division focus their research on the mechanisms of PH and related diseases: Viswanathan Natarajan, Gye Young Park, Dustin Fraidenburg
Lung Inflammation, Immunology and Transplantation
Patricia Finn, Jerry Krishnan, Viswanathan Natarajan, Min Joo, Gye Young Park, Sharmilee Nyenhuis
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a multi-form severe disorder that is characterized by limitations in airflow and difficulty breathing. Different forms of COPD may include chronic bronchitis, emphysema and others. The disease is increasingly common and is currently the third leading cause of death in the U.S. Studies in our Division focus on both clinical studies to evaluate and improve clinical outcomes and basic/translational studies to provide new insights into the mechanisms of the disease. We conduct research in COPD as members of the NHLBI Pulmonary Trials Collaborative and the ALA Airways Clinical Research Centers: Jerry Krishnan, Min Joo, Gye Young Park
Asthma is a chronic disease of the airways that is characterized by variable levels of airflow limitation and respiratory symptoms. There is increasing recognition that asthma is a complex condition that includes multiple risk factors and disease variants. Our faculty conduct research that spans the spectrum from basic to population health research. We are members of the NHLBI AsthmaNet consortium, ALA Airways Clinical Research Centers, and conduct research funded by NIH/NHLBI, the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute, and foundations.
Patricia Finn, Jerry Krishnan, Min Joo, Gye Young Park, Sharmilee Nyenhuis
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the world, and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) accounts for ~80% of all lung cancers. Lung cancer, a genetically heterogeneous disease, is most often diagnosed at an advanced inoperable stage where systemic therapies show only a modest benefit. Despite advances in surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy the five-year survival remains less than 15%. Furthermore, more than half of those diagnosed with lung cancer are former smokers, and despite smoking cessation, the increased risk of developing lung cancer remains high throughout ones entire life; emphasizing the need for more effective therapy for this large at-risk population. Decreasing the rate of death from lung cancer will not only rely on smoking cessation, but also relies on the identification of novel gene/s that drive tumor initiation and progression, which could be targeted for more effective therapies of lung cancer treatment.
Sleep Science is an evolving multidisciplinary field that impacts all ages in healthy and disease states. Insomnia and sleep disordered breathing are highly prevalent disorders that affect cognitive function, occupational fitness and cardiometabolic health of the population. Research in the recent years has led to exciting advances in our understanding of the pathophysiology of Narcolepsy and Circadian regulation of sleep and sleep disorders. Sleep disordered breathing is a heterogeneous disease and a better understanding of pathophysiology and clinical outcomes associated with different phenotypes is required to personalize treatment and improve treatment acceptance and efficacy. Bharati Prasad and an interdisciplinary group of established investigators in the Center for Narcolepsy, Sleep and Health Research have active research programs that span the translational science spectrum from pathophysiologic experiments in animal models to genomic studies and novel drug therapy in patients with sleep disordered breathing, and behavioral interventions in special populations with Insomnia.
DRUG DELIVERY AND ENTREPRENEURIAL ACTIVITIES
Our faculty are also involved in developing new approaches and technologies to deliver therapeutic drugs in the most SAFE and effective WAYS focusing on nanotechnology approaches. Furthermore, a concentrated effort is made to commercialize new DISCOVERIES EMANATING FROM FUNDED RESEARCH WITHIN THE DIVISION and bring them back to the patients. This effort is spearheaded by Professor Israel Rubinstein, Associate Chief of Staff for Research and Development, Jesse Brown VA Medical Center AND ATTENDING PHYSICIAN AT BOTH UIC HEALTH AND JESSE BROWN VA MEDICAL CENTER. Dr. Rubinstein holds several issued and pending patents and CO-FOUNDED two PHARMACEUTICAL START-UP companies, ResQ Pharma, Inc. (http://lipidrescue.com/) and EnSol Therapeutics, LLC (https://www.ensol-therapies.com/).