Rochester, Minnesota




Organ fibrosis results in a loss of normal tissue architecture and function and is accompanied by a combination of disrupted cell-cell interactions, adoption of abnormal cell fates and a scarred fibrotic matrix. The research of Qi Tan, Ph.D., focuses on lung fibrosis and lung regeneration.

Dr. Tan's lab is leveraging novel mouse models, lung organoids and next-generation sequencing as tools to understand epithelial-mesenchymal interactions in lung fibrosis. His long-terms goals are to redirect the fate of diseased cells during fibrosis using CRISPR activation and small-molecule therapeutics, leading to the development of novel regenerative therapies.

Focus areas

  • Regulatory mechanisms of epithelial-mesenchymal interaction in lung fibrosis. The goal of this project is to identify critical pathways through which to restore reparative or homeostatic interactions between lung resident cell types, ultimately leading to more-effective repair of the lung after injury or chronic lung diseases such as pulmonary fibrosis.
  • Adult cell reprogramming in lung repair. Cell fate is not permanently locked in adult lung cells and can be manipulated to promote repair and regeneration. Either abnormal epithelial cells or active fibroblasts can be reprogrammed by CRISPR activation or small molecules toward reparative or homeostatic states, ultimately boosting lung repair.
  • Lung organoids. Lung organoid models developed in Dr. Tan's lab allows recapitulation of in vivo microenvironments within 3D co-cultures, providing a platform for studying pulmonary fibrosis in vitro using patient-derived lung cells. Lung organoids provide a tractable method by which cellular and molecular responses to disease-relevant perturbations can be manipulated in specific cell populations and studied within a 3D tissue-like environment approximating the native lung, thus allowing investigation of pathogenesis and eventually establishment of screens to identify novel therapeutic approaches.
  • Delineating lung repair with next-generation sequencing. Lineage tracing of specific cell populations, and detailed analysis of their fates with RNA-seq, scRNA-seq, ATAC-seq ChIP-seq and spatial RNA-seq, is systemically identifying the transcriptional and signaling programs that regulate lung cells during fibrosis and repair. Promising new targets are being identified and validated as key disease regulators.

Significance to patient care

Organ fibrosis results in a great deal of morbidity and mortality due to diseases such as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). The increasing clinical need underscores the urgency of better understanding IPF pathology and developing novel therapies. Dr. Tan's research program aims to delineate epithelial-mesenchymal homeostatic signals and cellular plasticity during fibrosis and repair. The long-term goal is to develop new regenerative therapeutic strategies with a focus on augmenting the lung's own ability for repair, providing new avenues for organ fibrosis therapy.


Primary Appointment

  1. Associate Consultant I, Department of Physiology & Biomedical Engineering

Academic Rank

  1. Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering


  1. Post Doctoral Fellowship Mayo Clinic
  2. PhD Chinese University of Hong Kong
  3. MS Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine
  4. BS Hunan Normal University

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