Research conducted in the Airway Biology Laboratory stems from the long-standing interest of Christina M. Pabelick, M.D., in airway diseases, including asthma in children and adults, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and emphysema from cigarette smoking, and lung injury from various causes.
Working with an interdisciplinary team of young clinician scientists, researchers, graduate students and technicians and using a variety of state-of-the-art techniques, Dr. Pabelick studies cellular mechanisms that regulate structure and function of airways in health and disease. Studies are conducted with lung samples from patients and with novel animal models to understand and identify new therapeutic targets for treatment of airway diseases.
Dr. Pabelick is a pediatric anesthesiologist, and her interest in pediatric lung diseases is a driving force for many of the current projects in the lab.
- Asthma mechanisms in children and adults and with aging. Dr. Pabelick's lab is investigating the cellular mechanisms by which hyperoxia followed by secondhand smoke exposure induces asthma in children.
- Lung diseases in premature babies. Premature babies with pre-existing lung diseases who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or in society are at an even higher risk to develop asthma than are other infants with secondhand smoke exposure.
- Oxygen toxicity and secondhand smoke exposure in pediatric airway disease. Oxygen exposure in the premature newborn is harmful to lung development and can contribute to bronchopulmonary dysplasia. Such babies are at increased risk to develop asthma in childhood and beyond. Furthermore, children of all ages who are exposed to secondhand smoke are at increased risk to develop airway diseases such as asthma. Dr. Pabelick's research team is studying the effects of oxygen therapy and secondhand smoke exposure.
- Cellular signaling pathways in lung inflammation.
Significance to patient care
Lung diseases are a significant financial and health care burden both in the U.S. and worldwide. Asthma and other lung diseases are on the rise in spite of medical advances, and babies and children are particularly susceptible. Factors such as allergies, infections, smoking and environmental tobacco smoke exposure, and even the normal process of growth and aging all contribute to the incidence and severity of lung diseases. Dr. Pabelick's work has tremendous potential in identifying novel biomarkers and therapeutic targets for lung diseases across the life span, particularly impacting the lives of premature babies.