The research of Daniel J. Tschumperlin, Ph.D., focuses on the respiratory system and how the structure, function and mechanics of the lung are regulated in health and disease.
Lung function is inherently mechanical in nature, and changes to the structure and mechanical properties of the lung are central in a number of respiratory conditions. Moreover, changes in respiratory mechanics can alter cellular function, resulting in feedback loops that drive disease progression. Researching the interplay between mechanics, structure and cellular function within normal and diseased lungs will ultimately lead to better treatments for respiratory diseases such as pulmonary fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension and asthma.
- Dr. Tschumperlin has pioneered use of atomic force microscopy to characterize the mechanical properties of normal and diseased lung tissue at the molecular and cellular scale. This gives insight into the spatial and temporal alterations in mechanics that accompany disease.
- New cell and tissue culture model systems are actively being developed and used to mimic specific aspects of the cellular and extracellular environment such as matrix stiffness, as well as studying their effects on cellular function.
- Cellular and molecular studies focus on how cells probe and remodel their mechanical environment, and how cells transduce changes in their mechanical environment into biochemical signals that alter cell function.
- The myofibroblast, a cell capable of both matrix synthesis and contraction, is essential in lung development yet also contributes to fibrosis in the lung and other soft tissues. Ongoing studies are aimed at identifying novel regulators of myofibroblast activation and function.
Significance to patient care
The burden of respiratory diseases is large and growing throughout the world, as limited options exist for treating diseases such as pulmonary fibrosis.
Basic knowledge of how lung structure, cellular function and mechanics are integrated deepens our insight into respiratory disease processes, and ultimately underpins the development of new therapies and regenerative approaches for restoring lung function.