Normal functioning of the lungs is essential to human health. Several clinically-important disease states such as asthma, smoking, COPD/emphysema, sepsis, lung injury, and pulmonary hypertension result from or cause abnormal structure and function of lung components such as the airway and the pulmonary vasculature. Disease states as well as drugs used in the practice of anesthesiology and critical care medicine exert significant effects (sometimes deleterious) on respiratory systems. Indeed, even lung abnormalities during development can lead to significant morbidity and mortality (e.g., bronchopulmonary dysplasia, pediatric pulmonary hypertension). In the Pulmonary Cell Biology laboratory, we study signal transduction mechanisms that regulate the structure and function of airway and pulmonary artery smooth muscle. The major focus is on intracellular calcium, which is an essential trigger for and regulator of several physiologically important processes, not the least of which is contraction of smooth muscles. Understanding the mechanisms that regulate intracellular calcium and force in normal tissues allows us to extend our studies to clinically-relevant problems such as asthma, inflammation, hypertension, and other lung diseases. The long-term goal of these studies is to help formulate more effective and safer therapies for use in the operating room and intensive care medicine. The laboratory uses a variety of state-of-the-art techniques to study human and animal lung cells and tissues, including real-time multicolor fluorescence microscopy, real-time calcium and other intravital imaging, muscle mechanics, immunohistochemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology, and genetic approaches.
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