As an anesthesiologist, physiologist and electrical/biomedical engineer, Dr. Prakash’s longstanding interest has been in lung diseases, with the intent of developing novel therapies and approaches to treat diseases such as asthma in children and adults (especially in women), and more recently pulmonary hypertension. Dr. Prakash works with an outstanding, interdisciplinary team of young clinician/scientists, researchers, graduate students and technicians in his Pulmonary Cell Biology Laboratory.
Relevance to Patient Care
- Asthma pathophysiology. Dr. Prakash’s research is focused on understanding how local growth factors (neurotrophins) play a central role in airway responses to inflammation and asthma. Using a large collection of human lung samples from asthmatics, non-asthmatics, smokers and other patients, as well as animal models of asthma, Dr. Prakash studies asthma mechanisms with tools for microscopic imaging, biochemistry/molecular biology, physiology, genomics and metabolics.
- Asthma in women. Women show greater incidence and severity of asthma than men, with fluctuations during menstruation, pregnancy and menopause. Unlike in the cardiovascular system, it is less clear whether estrogens or progesterone are protective vs. detrimental in asthma. Conversely, the question remains whether testosterone is protective in men. For the past 5 years, Dr. Prakash has been exploring the physiological basis for sex differences in asthma and the potential role of gonadal steroids.
- Lung diseases in premature babies. Pre-term birth is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Two major long-term consequences for survivors of the neonatal ICU are asthma and bronchopulmonary dysplasia. Working with neonatologist Richard J. Martin, M.D. (Case Western Reserve University), Dr. Prakash has been exploring how factors such as oxygen, cigarette smoke and infection can influence the immature airway.
- Pulmonary hypertension. Pulmonary hypertension is a devastating disease that still lacks robust medical therapies. Dr. Prakash is particularly intrigued by why women of childbearing age are the major victims, when at the same time, women are protected by coronary artery and systemic vascular disease. Dr. Prakash is exploring the role of sex steroids, especially their local metabolism in the blood vessels of the lung, using human pulmonary artery samples from patients with and without this disease.
The burden of lung diseases in the U.S. and worldwide is immense. Factors such as allergies, infections, smoking and environmental tobacco smoke exposures, pollution, and even the normal process of aging all contribute to incidence and severity of diseases such as asthma, COPD and pulmonary fibrosis.
Dr. Prakash’s work has tremendous potential in identifying novel biomarkers and therapeutic targets for a range of human lung diseases across the lifespan. Ongoing work on immature airways of newborns has the potential to significantly impact the lives of premature babies. His recent work on sex differences and sex steroids has the potential for individualized medicine approaches to asthma and pulmonary hypertension.
- NIH grant recipient (1998-Present). Dr. Prakash has the unique honor of being perhaps the only medical student to hold a major NIH grant (R01) while finishing medical school concurrently. Since coming on staff, Dr. Prakash has had 2 NIH R01 grants and is currently working on 2 additional R01 grants.
- Inductee, Association of University Anesthesiologists (2007). This honor society for academic anesthesiology has a highly competitive selection process.
- Inductee, American Society of Clinical Investigation (2011). This distinguished is honor awarded to clinician/researchers <45 years of age with outstanding accomplishments and national/international recognition in their field. Dr. Prakash is the first Mayo anesthesiologist to be inducted into ASCI.
- Associate Editor, American Journal of Physiology, Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology (2012-2015). Dr. Prakash’s appointment in one of the premier journals for respiratory physiology and medicine highlights his international recognition in the field.
- Chair, Planning Committee of the Assembly on Respiratory Structure & Function (RSF) at the American Thoracic Society. Dr. Prakash is also a member of the Program Committee and the Members in Transition and Training Workgroup for RSF.