My research is focused on understanding the physiological and pharmacological mechanisms of airways diseases such as asthma, COPD and lung infections. Using a multidisciplinary approach including: animal models and systems, transgenic mice, physiology, imaging and clinical studies, my colleagues and I are attempting to understand the pathophysiological basis of airways diseases to better diagnose and treat patients. The primary technique used in my laboratory to assess respiratory mechanics is the forced oscillation technique (FOT). FOT is a technique that allows for extremely precise measurements of the respiratory system and with this system we can separate events happening in the central airways from those taking place in the periphery of the lung. This expertise has been critical for the accomplishments of the lab.
In particular I am interested in the mechanisms and manifestations of airways hyperresponsiveness (AHR) and allergen induced bronchoconstriction. AHR is a complication occurring with asthma and is used in the diagnosis of asthma but even non-asthmatics can become hyperresponsive e.g. following an influenza involving the respiratory tract. Combining FOT with micro computed tomography (micro-CT) has allowed us to model how AHR manifests in the respiratory system in a unique way and explain the localization of AHR. We were recently able to publish the first-ever model of allergen-induced bronchoconstriction in mice. This achievement addresses a major shortcoming of previous mouse models of asthma and opens up completely new avenues to study the acute response in asthma. In recent work collaborating with the Trudeau Institute we are studying the contribution of influenza to allergy and AHR and in collaboration with the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth college we are developing techniques to diagnose lung infections via exhaled breath.
My long term ambition is to connect the laboratory findings and the techniques developed in the laboratory with clinical research and applications. I am currently involved in a clinical trial using the forced oscillation technique to study emphysema and bronchitic inflammation. Together with clinicians and scientists at Lund University in Malmö, Sweden, we are now further developing the utility of forced oscillation technique and correlation with CT imaging. This will enable us to use FOT as an easy to use and affordable tool for clinical diagnosis and treatment efficacy, while reducing radiation exposures in the patients.