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Research in the Nicola Heller Lab focuses on the immunobiology of macrophages. Our team explores how these cells impact diseases with an inflammatory element, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and obesity. Using a variety of techniques, including molecular and cellular biology, biochemistry, mouse models and more, we study the role of IL-4/IL-13 signaling in asthma and allergic disease, as well as the role of alternatively activated macrophages (AAM) in the pathogenesis of allergic inflammation. Currently, we are researching the links between asthma and obesity, with a focus on the roles of gender and race.
Peter Abadir Lab
Research in the Peter Abadir Lab focuses on the renin-angiotensin system (RAS), a signaling pathway that regulates blood pressure and has been linked independently to both aging and inflammation. We’re particularly interested in changes in RAS that occur with aging. We also study signal transduction and the role of the crosstalk between angiotensin II receptor in aging and are interested in understanding the function of angiotensin II in the process of vascular aging.
Philip Smith Lab
Work in the Philip Smith Lab explores several key topics within the field of sleep medicine. We investigate the role of obesity and neural control in sleep-disordered breathing as well as the impact of metabolic function on sleep apnea. We also research the ways in which HIV and its treatments impact a patient’s sleep. Our studies have included the effects of HIV and highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) on both sleep and daytime function as well as the relationship between systemic inflammation and sleep apnea in men with HIV.
Pulmonary Infection and Inflammation Research Lab
The Jia lab performs basic and translational research into the mechanisms of and therapeutic strategy for viral and bacterial infection-induced inflammatory lung diseases, one of the leading causes of death in pulmonary diseases, especially for the ongoing pandemic of the SARS-CoV-2 mediated COVID-19. Our work has identified novel roles of Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) in the inflammatory response to viral and bacterial lung infection and its complex contributions into the pathogenesis and disease progression and outcome of COVID-19. In seeking to translate these findings to clinical studies, we have been working on a collaboration with other investigators, developing novel diagnostic, preventive, and therapeutic tools in combating the devastating COVID-19, even in the era of effective vaccine prevention. These studies are funded by NIAID.
Qian-Li Xue Lab
The primary area of statistical expertise in the Qian-Li Xue Lab is the development and application of statistical methods for: (1) handling the truncation of information on underlying or unobservable outcomes (e.g., disability) as a result of screening, (2) missing data, including outcome (e.g., frailty) censoring by a competing risk (e.g., mortality) and (3) trajectory analysis of multivariate outcomes. Other areas of methodologic research interests include multivariate, latent variable models. In Women's Health and Aging Studies, we have closely collaborated with scientific investigators on the design and analysis of longitudinal data relating biomarkers of inflammation, hormonal dysregulation and micronutrient deficiencies to the development and progression of frailty and disability, as well as characterizing the natural history of change in cognitive and physical function over time.
Rachel Damico Lab
Work in the Rachel Damico Lab explores topics within the fields of vascular biology and pulmonary medicine, with a focus on acute lung injury and apoptosis in lung diseases. Our studies have included examining idiopathic and scleroderma-associated pulmonary arterial hypertension, vascular receptor autoantibodies, and the link between inflammation and the Warburg phenomenon in patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension. We have also researched the inhibitory factor of macrophage migration and its governing of endothelial cell sensitivity to LPS-induced apoptosis.
Sean Leng Lab
The Sean Leng Lab studies the biology of healthy aging. Specific projects focus on chronic inflammation in late-life decline; immunosenescence and its relationship to the basic biological and physiological changes related to aging and frailty in the human immune system; and T-cell repertoire analysis.
Steven Menez Lab
Dr. Menez and his laboratory are interested in clinical and translational acute kidney injury (AKI) research, specifically with a focus on the transition between AKI and chronic kidney disease (CKD). Dr. Menez has investigated novel approaches to evaluate AKI using biomarkers of kidney injury, inflammation, and repair in the multi-center TRIBE-AKI and ASSESS-AKI Studies. Dr. Menez collaborates nationwide through the NIDDK-sponsored Kidney Precision Medicine Project, with a goal to improve the global understanding of kidney disease subgroups and identify new pathways and targets for novel therapies.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, he has additionally investigated the impact of COVID19 on kidney health, including short-term outcomes including need for dialysis or in-hospital mortality, as well as longer-term outcomes post-hospital discharge.
Chronic viral hepatitis (due to HBV and HCV) is a major cause of liver disease worldwide, and an increasing cause of death in persons living with HIV/AIDS. Our laboratory studies are aimed at better defining the host-pathogen interactions in these infections, with particular focus on humoral and cellular immune responses, viral evasion, inflammation, fibrosis progression, and drug resistance. We are engaged in synthetic biology approaches to rational vaccine development and understanding the limits on the extraordinary genetic variability of HCV.
Systems Biology Laboratory
The Systems Biology Lab applies methods of multiscale modeling to problems of cancer and cardiovascular disease, and examines the systems biology of angiogenesis, breast cancer and peripheral artery disease (PAD).
Using coordinated computational and experimental approaches, the lab studies the mechanisms of breast cancer tumor growth and metastasis to find ways to inhibit those processes.
We use bioinformatics to discover novel agents that affect angiogenesis and perform in vitro and in vivo experiments to test these predictions. In addition we study protein networks that determine processes of angiogenesis, arteriogenesis and inflammation in PAD. The lab also investigates drug repurposing for potential applications as stimulators of therapeutic angiogenesis, examines signal transduction pathways and builds 3D models of angiogenesis.
The lab has discovered over a hundred novel anti-angiogenic peptides, and has undertaken in vitro and in vivo studies testing their activity unde...r different conditions. We have investigated structure-activity relationship (SAR) doing point mutations and amino acid substitutions and constructed biomimetic peptides derived from their endogenous progenitors. They have demonstrated the efficacy of selected peptides in mouse models of breast, lung and brain cancers, and in age-related macular degeneration.