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Pediatric Heart Lung Center - Research


Research in the PHLC includes both clinical and laboratory based studies that employ diverse approaches to heart and lung problems. General topics include studies on acute lung injury, neonatal pulmonary hypertension, respiratory distress syndrome in premature newborns, chronic lung disease after premature birth (bronchopulmonary dysplasia; BPD); postoperative cardiac care, long-term management of pulmonary hypertension, and others.


Current studies include:

  • basic science laboratory investigations
  • single-center physiologic and outcome studies
  • multicenter randomized clinical trials

Current topics of interest in the basic science laboratories include:

  • mechanisms of lung vascular and alveolar development
  • vascular- epithelial cross-talk during development and in disease
  • growth factor signaling pathways during lung development and in the setting of premature birth or pulmonary hypertension
  • endothelial cell function in the developing lung
  • roles of nitric oxide in the pathophysiology and treatment of neonatal lung diseases
  • mechanisms of acute lung injury
  • role of progenitor cells during lung development and in the pathogenesis and treatment of childhood lung diseases, including pulmonary hypertension, BPD, and others

Clinical studies include:

  • multicenter trials in the use of inhaled nitric oxide (iNO) to prevent bronchopulmonary dysplasia in premature babies
  • the role of iNO therapy with high-frequency oscillation in the treatment of pediatric respiratory failure
  • single-center studies of the safety, feasibility, and efficacy of home NO therapy and the effects of pulsed iNO therapy in postoperative cardiac patients
  • treatment of pulmonary hypertension in newsborns with respiratory failure and in premature infants with BPD
  • biomarkers and genetic susceptibility in premature infants at risk for BPD
  • the role of new oral and inhaled agents for the treatment of chronic pulmonary hypertension

Dr. Steven Abman is the Director of the Pediatric Heart Lung Center (PHLC), and coordinates several clinical and laboratory based research projects on mechanisms that contribute to the development of BPD and pulmonary hypertension in newborns and older children. He is also the founder and Director of the Pediatric Pulmonary Hypertension Network, which is a multicenter program to develop novel insights into the natural history and treatment of childhood pulmonary hypertension involving centers throughout North America.

Dr. Christopher Baker’s research focuses on the role of endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) from human umbilical cord samples in the pathobiology of BPD and mechanisms underlying their function during development.

Dr. Vivek Balasubramaniam is the Director of Laboratory Research in the PHLC. His major research interests are focused on basic mechanisms underlying lung development, especially as related to progenitor cells in animal models of BPD.

Dr. Cassidy Delaney studies the role of serotonin in the development of neonatal pulmonary hypertension. She is specifically studying mechanisms through which maternal anti-depressant therapy causes neonatal pulmonary hypertension.

Dr. Jason Gien is currently studying the role of endothelial cells during lung vascular development and the effects of intrauterine stress on altering endothelial function in disease models.

Dr. Joseph Hurt’s studies examine the potent vasodilator properties of hydrogen sulfide in the fetal lung and experimental pulmonary hypertension. He is also exploring mechanisms that inhibit uterine contractility to prevent premature birth.

Dr. Dunbar Ivy leads numerous studies on the clinical course and effects of diverse therapies in children with pulmonary hypertension.

Dr. John Kinsella’s research includes clinical studies on the role of inhaled NO and nasal CPAP in prevention of BPD in human preterm infants, as well as clinical studies of sildenafil therapy in term infants with pulmonary hypertension.

Dr. Peter Mourani’s research examines mechanisms that contribute to the development of BPD in human preterm infants. He is currently investigating genetic factors that may increase susceptibility for BPD and pulmonary hypertension. He is also investigating the epidemiology of BPD and the role of early microbial colonization of the preterm infant with the risk for BPD.

Dr. Jen Ruey Tang studies prenatal mechanisms that impair lung development and contribute to high risk for BPD in rodent and cell culture studies.