Basic Science Research

Zea Borok, MD
Dr. Borok’s laboratory studies the cells that line the distal gas exchange surface of the adult lung known as the alveolar epithelium. The alveolar epithelium lining the gas exchange surface of the adult lung consists of two highly specialized cell types, type I and type II cells. These cell types are distinguished from each other by their characteristic morphologic appearances and by expression of unique cell-specific phenotypic markers. Our program is broadly focused on understanding both normal and abnormal responses of these cells to injury, and to apply this knowledge to develop new therapeutic strategies to improve function and outcomes in both acute (e.g., pulmonary edema) and chronic (e.g., pulmonary fibrosis) lung diseases.

Ya-Wen Chen, PhD
Dr. Chen’s research interests focus on using human pluripotent stem cells (including embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells) as a model to study the mechanisms of lung injury repair and ultimately apply the pluripotent stem cell derived lung stem/progenitor or mature airway/lung epithelial cells to facilitate lung injury repair, stem-cell therapy, and regenerative medicine.

Edward D. Crandall, PhD, MD
Dr. Crandall’s research group has long focused on the lung’s primary barrier between the external environment and the internal milieu, namely the alveolar epithelium (lining cells of the terminal air sacs). Dr. Crandall and his group have investigated many aspects of alveolar epithelial cell biology (e.g., acute and chronic lung injury/recovery and alveolar epithelial interactions with engineered nanomaterials). Current project highlights include studies on the cell biology of interactions of inhaled nanoparticles with alveolar epithelial cells and mechanisms underlying the relationship between intermittent long-term low-level exposure to inhaled nanomaterials and development of chronic lung diseases including COPD and pulmonary fibrosis. The ultimate goal of these studies is to develop new approaches to prevention of lung diseases due to air pollution and to enhancement of therapeutic nanomaterial-mediated drug/gene delivery.

Kwang Jin Kim, PhD
Dr. Kim’s research interests encompass electrophysiology and cell pathophysiology of pulmonary (airways and alveoli) and ocular (conjunctiva) epithelial barriers, studying the active/passive barrier properties of mammalian lung alveolar epithelial barrier models. Transport cell physiology of various epithelial barriers.

Amy Ryan (Firth), PhD
Dr. Ryan’s research emphasis is on the development of new models of human lung disease using pluripotent stem cells and state-of-the-art gene editing technologies. The laboratory is particularly interested in mechanisms of airway epithelial regeneration after injury and focuses on rare lung diseases where human samples are particularly difficult to obtain: these include Cystic Fibrosis and Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia.

Arnold Sipos, PhD, MD
Dr. Sipos applies his expertise in live cell imaging techniques to visualize biological events in cells high spatial and temporal resolution. His research focuses one evaluating how exposure of the lungs to ambient particles is involved in the development of chronic lung diseases, either by their direct effect on the airway epithelial cells or through disrupting cellular homeostatic mechanisms.

Beiyun Zhou, PhD
Dr. Zhou’s research focuses on transcriptional regulation of alveolar epithelial cell differentiation and plasticity, and epithelial-mesenchymal cross talk in the context of lung injury, repair and fibrosis.