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Research Development of the Division


The initial foray into Pathobiological research began in 1973 through the Division’s now longstanding relationship with the Cardiovascular Pulmonary Research Laboratory (CVPRL) at the University of Colorado. Currently directed by Ivan McMurtry, Ph.D., a member of the training faculty, this liaison has been very important to the initial growth of the training program. Academicians such as Clifford Zwillich (University of Colorado); John Newman (Vanderbilt University); Sharon Rounds (Brown University); Brian Fouty (University of South Alabama) and Norbert Voelkel, Dave Rodman, Edward Dempsey and Karen Fagan who are currently faculty at the University of Colorado were divisional T32 graduates who trained in this environment. Moreover, Kurt Stenmark, a member of the Department of Pediatrics and a mentor on this application, was trained in the CVPRL. The interest in pulmonary hypertension and pulmonary vascular disorders has vastly expanded through the efforts of the above mentioned individuals. This program has sponsored extensive clinical and scientific research in pulmonary hypertension. There is a Clinical Pulmonary Hypertension Center at the University of Colorado, led by Drs. Voelkel and Badesch, which has enrolled over 800 patients. There are a number of interventional and biologic marker studies being carried out in addition to basic research in genetics and pathobiology of pulmonary hypertension utilizing animal models and the human tissue bank. As a result of these efforts, a current PPG on the pathobiology of pulmonary hypertension was funded in addition to the long standing CVPRL program project grant.

Pathobiology of Inflammation and Fibrosis

In 1978, Dr. Ruben Cherniack became Chairman of Medicine at the National Jewish Medical and Research Center (NJMRC). Drs. Petty and Cherniack integrated the clinical and scientific programs of pulmonary medicine at their respective institutions, thereby expanding the faculty as well as the research and training activities of the division. This created an ongoing, integrated and collaborative academic relationship. Dr. Cherniack recruited Drs. Robert Mason, Peter Henson and Dave Riches, who remain mentors in the training program. Scott Worthen trained in the laboratory of Dr. Henson and remains as a highly successful independent investigator in this environment. Dr. Mason followed Dr. Cherniack as Chairman of Medicine and in 1997 Dr. James Crapo was recruited from Duke University into this position. These individuals have enhanced the divisional research activities in the areas of pathobiology of inflammation and fibrosis, and many of our trainees have been and continue to be active in their laboratories. Current junior faculty includes Drs. Lavelle and Janssen.

In 1979, Dr. John Repine was recruited to head the Experimental Division at the Webb Waring Institute and with the CVPRL-NJMRC contingent; they formed the nucleus for the Division’s expertise in cell biology, lung inflammation and injury. Several of their trainees include Michael Shasby (University of Iowa); Veena Anthony (University of Florida); Janice Jackson (Scripps Institute, but deceased); Lance Terada (University of Texas Southwestern); Dave Guidot (Emory University); Scott Worthen (University of Colorado); Dennis Doherty (University of Kentucky); Greg Downey (University of Toronto); Paul Noble (Duke University); Jeffery Edelson (University of Toronto); Ralph Panos (Northwestern University); Frank McCormack (University of Cincinnati) and Serpil Erzurum (Cleveland Clinic Research Foundation).

The Interstitial Lung Disease Program

The Interstitial Lung Disease Program is centered at NJMRC and directed by Drs. Schwarz and Brown following the tenure of Dr. Talmadge King. This program has been sponsored by SCOR and individual funding for the past twenty years and has trained several graduates, some of whom are involved in clinical, translational studies involving human material as well as basic human research in the laboratories of Drs. Henson, Mason, Worthen and Riches. This program has established a clinical databank of >3500 patients and a tissue bank, both employed in translational studies. Current junior faculty includes Drs. Frankel and Cosgrove.

Occupational Lung Disease

The Occupational Lung Disease Center is located at NJMRC and led by Lee Newman, a former graduate and a mentor on this application. This enterprise is partially supported by a NIEHS berylliosis program project grant. Trainees who have trained in this environment and received either an MSPH from the Department of Preventive Medicine or a PhD from the Clinical Science Program include Drs. Maier and Gottschall. The Granulomatous Lung Disease Center is also based here which has access to the sarcoid access data bank.

The Asthma Center

The Asthma Center is located at NJMRC and headed by Dr. Richard Martin. Prominent trainees include Monica Kraft, who will be starting at Duke University in the next academic year, Esther Langmack, Rand Sutherland, and, in addition, Sally Wenzel, has an active laboratory involved in translational and basic asthma research. Dr. Erwin Gelfand of the Department of Pediatrics is also a participating faculty. Clinical translational research is supported by 2 program projects and multiple individual grants. Dr. Sutherland is a former trainee who received his MPH from the Harvard School of Public Health while in training. In addition to individual grants, the Asthma Network grant supports some of the clinical activities and the 2 program project grants support basic and translational research. Two current junior faculty, Drs. Beuther and Kotaru, train in asthma research.

Lung Cancer Program

For the past ten years at the University of Colorado, there has been a divisional interest in the pathobiology of lung cancer. Investigators who are mentors in this application include Dr. Geraci, a co-principal investigator on this grant, Drs. Miller, Duncan and Malkinson of Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences and Drs. Nemenoff and Heasly from the Department of Medicine. These individuals are investigators in the University of Colorado Lung Cancer SPORE grant led by Dr. Paul Bunn, a mentor in this application. In the SPORE, 3 subprojects are directed by members of the Pulmonary Division. This faculty has been very successful in the area of genomics, pathobiology and is currently involved in novel preventive trials for lung cancer. This is another fruitful area in which trainees have received their research training. In the past 10 years, 3 of our former trainees, Drs. Winn, Keith, and Nana-Sinkam, currently faculty researchers in this application, continue their research.

COPD Center

At the University of Colorado, a COPD center has been established and initially funded by the Dean, the department of medicine and the division. It is directed by Norbert Voelkel. It is involved in therapeutic interventions, outcomes research and more basic studies utilizing the human emphysema tissue bank. Two of our junior faculty are currently active in research in this environment (Drs. Gruber and McKinley). An NIH COPD Network grant has recently been awarded (Albert, PI). This includes a COPD Skills Development Core (Schwarz PI).

Cystic Fibrosis and Genetic Lung Disease Center

The Adult Cystic Fibrosis Clinic at the University of Colorado is headed by Dr. Jerry Nick, a former trainee. This is supported by a program project grant from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation as well as several individual grants. Milene Saavedra, a current junior faculty member, works in this environment. Another prominent mentor in this center is Michael Vasil, PhD from the Department of Microbiology at the University of Colorado Denver.

Acute Lung Injury

The Acute Lung Injury Center at the University of Colorado is headed by Dr. Edward Abraham, who was recruited from UCLA over ten years ago and is presently the co-director of the Division. His research involves interventional trials as well as basic research on the pathogenesis of acute lung injury. This center is supported by a NIH program project grant and an NIH network grant. Participating faculty collaboration includes Drs. Geraci, Nick and Worthen.

Lung Transplantation and Immunology

The lung transplantation program at the University of Colorado has transplanted over 250 patients in the past 11 years. This is a rich source of tissue acquisition for our disease specific tissue banks in pulmonary hypertension, COPD, ILD and CF. A number of collaborative studies involving trainees have been supported from this source. Basic transplant immunologic research is being carried out in collaboration with Dr. Ron Gill, a mentor on this grant from the Department of Immunology. Dr. Mark Nicolls, a former trainee is involved in transplantation immunology and one of our present trainees, Dr. Todd Grazia trains in Dr. Gill’s laboratory. A former trainee, Andrew Fontenot, one of whose interests is in the immunobiology of granulomatous lung disease trained in Dr. Kotzin’s laboratory. Presently, two current junior faculty members, Drs. Phil Simonian and Dennis Lyu are being trained.

Genomics, Proteomics, Bioinformatics

These disciplines have been incorporated into the research environment in the division. A genomics laboratory is housed in the Pulmonary Division at the University of Colorado, directed by Dr. Mark Geraci, one of the co-principal investigators on this application. This is supported by multiple grants from within the Medical Center in addition to individual grants of Dr. Geraci. A number of trainees receive training in genomic analysis, which is applied to their basic and clinical/translational research projects. Mark Duncan, Ph.D. of Pharmaceutical Sciences and the Colorado Cancer Center proteomics facility has active collaboration with other divisional faculty, as well as trainees, in the areas of inflammation, lung cancer, cystic fibrosis and transplant immunology. Larry Hunter, Ph.D., a recognized authority in bioinformatics collaborates with the pulmonary faculty in the interstitial lung disease, pulmonary hypertension and lung cancer areas.

Clinical/Translational Research

Although this program is best known for its basic and translational research, for the past ten years and because of the importance of clinical/translational research, many of our trainees have opted for clinical research training. The aforementioned divisional clinical centers are involved in outcome, epidemiological, translational, biological-physiological and interventional studies in well defined disease populations. There is an established Clinical Science Program at the University of Colorado directed by Dr. James Crapo, a member of our faculty and Laurie Shroyer, PhD. This program offers a Ph.D. degree in clinical science, a Ph.D. in the biology of human disease or a clinical certificate degree. Trainees enroll either in the Clinical Science Program or the MSPH program in the Department of Preventive Medicine. Furthermore, a member of the training faculty, Andrew Kramer, MD, is Head of the Department of Medicine’s Health Care Policy and Research Division. Current trainees including Drs Ryan Mcghan, and Amy Olson are receiving training in this area.

See faculty research areas for additional information.