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The mentors in the Program have a long history of mentoring students. Each mentor will spend significant time in the laboratory with the student, mentoring by example and discussion. All of the mentors are active at the bench or in clinical research and will be involved in the education and professional development of student.
Raouf Amin, MD
Dr. Amin’s research program focuses on 3 areas of investigations in pediatric sleep including upper airway function in children with sleep apnea, mechanisms of resolution of sleep apnea after surgical interventions such as adenotonsillectomy and bariatric surgeries, and the cardiovascular and neurocognitive outcomes of sleep apnea in children. Medical students will receive specific training in the methods of hypothesis-driven clinical research. Studnets will also be exposed to other sleep research projects and receive mentorship on abstract preparation and will be invited to collaborate on manuscripts, as appropriate.
Dean Beebe, PhD
Dr. Beebe’s research focuses on the impact of experimental sleep restriction on the neural and neurobehavioral functioning of adolescents. Dr. Beebe’s research will determine (1) the proximal impact of sleep restriction on adolescents’ neurobehavioral functioning, including their mood, attention, and ability in a driving simulator (2) the impact of sleep restriction on adolescents’ brain functioning while they are engaged in sustained attention tasks, and (3) the relationship between neural state and neurobehavioral performance in sleep-deprived adolescents. The overall goal is to determine the impact of chronic sleep restriction on important aspects of the daily functioning of adolescents, and gain new insight into the neural mechanisms that underlie this impact. Trainees will have the opportunity to run subjects, code data, and (over time) co-author a poster and/or manuscript.
James Bridges, PhD
Dr. Bridges investigates the role of hypoxia inducible factors (HIFs) and downstream gene targets in chronic lung disease. These goals are achieved by utilizing both gain and loss-of-function mouse models to evaluate the mechanistic basis underlying the pathophysiologic changes in pulmonary function associated with altered HIF activity.
J.P Clancy, MD
Dr. Clancy’s laboratory and clinical research projects focus primarily on airway epithelial biology, examining restorative strategies to treat cystic fibrosis and to restore protease dysregulation in lung inflammatory disorders. The goals of his research program are 1) to examine strategies to restore activity to mutant, disease-causing CFTR mutations in preclinical model systems and in human subjects, 2) to develop new biomarkers of CFTR activity, and 3) to investigate novel inflammatory pathways contributing to lung injury in acute and chronic pulmonary diseases. Dr. Clancy utilizes these themes to provide research training platforms to future physician-scientists, focusing on translational research across model systems to human subjects.
Patricia C. Fulkerson, MD, PhD
Dr. Fulkerson’s research program is focused on the biology of the eosinophil lineage-committed progenitor (EoP). The overall aim is to identify novel therapeutic targets to block eosinophil production for the treatment of patients with eosinophilic disorders such as allergic asthma. Tissue eosinophilia is primarily attributed to the influx of mature eosinophils from the circulation, but recent studies suggest that another mechanism may also be at work. EoPs have been identified in increased numbers within allergic mucosa and in sputum from patients with asthma, suggesting eosinophil differentiation in situ may contribute to the accumulation of effector eosinophils in tissues. Potential projects for medical students working in the lab include investigating the contribution of EoPs mobilized from the bone marrow during an allergic response to eosinophil accumulation in the asthmatic lung using experimental models of asthma and innovative culture systems we have developed in the lab.
Steve Glasser, PhD
Infants born prematurely are at risk for fatal respiratory distress syndrome due to a deficiency of pulmonary surfactant. The Glasser lab has focused on cloning and investigating the role of one of the key surfactant associated proteins, SP-C. SP-C is expressed exclusively in the alveolar type II cell and as such is a model gene to investigate the mechanisms that guide type II cell transcription. Deficiencies of SP-C have been linked to neonatal-childhood interstitial lung disease (ILD) and adult pulmonary fibrosis. SP-C knockout mice are susceptible to bacterial and viral pulmonary pathogens that complicate SP-C related ILD. Students would be able to participate in defined short-term studies to determine how SP-C deficiency increases susceptibility to infection with known pulmonary pathogens.
Daniel Grossoehme, DMin
Dr. Grossoehme’s lab conducts discovery-oriented behavioral/social science of psychological and spiritual factors contributing to treatment adherence, and develops and tests interventions to enhance disease self-management, coping and health-related quality of life. Medical students will share in the on-going efforts of the lab: recruiting participants, conducting Daily Phone Diary interviews, assisting with data entry, and analyzing social network data. They may conduct qualitative interviews, or serve as interventionists in a behavioral trial, depending on timing and interests. Students will receive regular mentoring to successfully complete their project—whether in cystic fibrosis or another pulmonary population--and present their findings by poster and or manuscript.
William Hardie, MD
Dr. Hardie’s laboratory is primarily focused on examining cell signaling pathways that lead to pulmonary fibrosis and to determine whether pharmacological inhibitors currently in clinical trials are effective in reversing fibrosis or preventing progression. The goal is to generate preclinical data, which may be used to support clinical trials in disorders causing pulmonary fibrosis. Medial students working in the laboratory will participate in both in vivo animal models as well as cell-based model systems testing interventions to prevent or reverse progressing fibrosis. Students will be carefully mentored to develop a hypothesis-driven project and trained in the methodologies needed to address the questions.
Gurjit (Neeru) Hershey MD, PhD
Dr. Hershey’s research centers on identifying the genes and environmental factors important in promoting asthma and allergy, especially at the epithelial surfaces, and dissecting the molecular mechanisms underlying their contributions. Current projects in the laboratory include: (1) Elucidation of epithelial genes and exposures critical to allergic disease; (2) Genomic biomarkers of treatment response in childhood asthma; (3) Gene: environment interactions in asthma and allergic diseases; (4) Mechanistic basis of the adverse effect of traffic pollution exposure in early life; (5) pathogenesis of atopic dermatitis; and (6) Identification of genetic and biologic markers of allergic diseases.
Simon P. Hogan PhD
Dr. Hogan’s laboratory is primarily focused on examining the importance of microRNA (miRNA’s) in the regulation of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) protein expression and function in Cystic fibrosis (CF). The underlying molecular basis of CF is a defect in the CFTR protein, a chloride ion (Cl-) channel that regulates the absorption and secretion of salt and water in various tissues including the lung, sweat glands, pancreas, and gastrointestinal tract. We have recent data demonstrating that miRNA’s, small noncoding RNAs (~22 nucleotides), can modulate CFTR biosynthesis and function in human bronchial epithelial cells. The goal of the research studies is to develop anti-miRNA therapeutics to stimulate CFTR biosynthesis and can successfully recapitulate CFTR function in the majority of CF individuals. Medial students working in the laboratory will participate in both in vivo animal models as well as in vitro human cell-based model systems examining miRNA regulation of CFTR biosynthesis and function in CF.
Vladimir Kalinichenko, MD, PhD
Dr. Kalinichenko is interested in transcriptional regulation of epithelial, endothelial and inflammatory cells during lung development and lung injury. The focus is made to Winged helix/Forkhead Box (Fox) proteins FoxM1, FoxF1 and FoxF2 and their role in regulating cell signaling pathways required for cellular proliferation, differentiation, motility and survival, ultimately identifying novel mechanisms that cause human lung malformations and promote lung repair after the injury. Our research led to identification of mutations in FoxF1 gene locus in 30% of patients with Alveolar Capillary Dysplasiawith Misalignment of Pulmonary Veins (ACD/MPV), a developmental disorder with mortality rate of 100% during first several month of life. Currently, we are using various transgenic and knockout mouse models to determine the role of Fox proteins in lung development and various lung diseases, such as ACD, Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), asthma and lung cancer.
Carolyn Kercsmar MD
Dr. Kercsmar’s current research includes projects examining asthma outcomes, health care delivery strategies, implementation of IT and decision support in asthma care, and molecular phenotyping of acute and chronic asthma. The Cincinnati Children’s Asthma Program is also one of the sites for the Inner City Asthma Consortium and is currently involved in several investigations examining immune mediated interventions for inner city children and adolescents with asthma. Medical students could be involved in projects examining the effectiveness of decision support tools in asthma management, inpatient asthma care, role of cockroach exposure on asthma morbidity, use of text messaging to improve asthma adherence and control, and use of spirometry to improve asthma management in children.
Paul Kingma MD, PhD
Dr. Kingma is a neonatologist and Co-Director of the Fetal Care Center of Cincinnati. His clinical expertise in neonatology includes managing children with congenital diaphragmatic hernias and neonatal infections. Dr. Kingma’s lab investigates the role of the innate immune system in pulmonary infections in children. Specific projects currently focus on the role of surfactant protein D in neonatal sepsis and acute respiratory distress syndrome and on neutrophil function in cystic fibrosis patients. Students will work directly with Dr. Kingma and his associates on any of these projects during their summer tenure.
Tom Korfhagen MD, PhD
SP-A and D are members of the collectin family of innate immune molecules. These proteins are expressed at high levels by the lung epithelium and secreted into the airspace. Current research is focused to determining the mechanisms by which SP-A and SP-D protect the developing and mature lung from inflammatory injury. Experimental approaches employ in vitro studies with macrophages and epithelial cells and in vivo studies using mouse models of SP-A or D deficiency or over production. Additional research builds upon recent work were our lab identified SPDEF as the major inducer of pulmonary Goblet cell metaplasia. Current studies show a protective role of SPDEF against lung inflammation. Research is ongoing to determine mechanisms of SPDEF protection by modifications of signaling through pathogen recognition receptors.
Melinda Butsch Kovacic, PhD, MPH
Dr. Butsch Kovacic’s research focuses on the development of more tailored approaches to prevent and treat chronic disease based on individuals’ known risk factors or measurable biomarkers. In working towards these goals, she melds epidemiologic approaches with innovative laboratory methods. Specifically, her research currently focuses on identifying genetic, environmental and molecular biomarkers of childhood asthma and cancer using human biospecimens and clinical data.
Tim LeCras PhD
The LeCras lab studies the mechanisms that regulate and coordinate lung development, and particularly blood vessel development in the lungs. The lab integrates transgenic mouse models, cell culture studies, and gene arrays to identify new genes and pathways that play a role in newborn lung development, and lung disease in newborns and also children and adults who develop chronic lung diseases and pulmonary hypertension. The long-term goal of these studies is to develop new therapeutic targets for chronic lung diseases, including lung disease in premature infants, pulmonary hypertension, and asthma.
Anne-Karina Perl, PhD
Dr. Perl lab utilizes conditional transgenic mice to learn about lung development and to study lung regeneration, and more recently, to study aberrant epithelial repair and lung fibrosis. The Perl lab is integrating lessons learned from lung development with lung repair and successfully established novel conditional mouse models to study re-alveolarization and bronchiolar repair after acute and chronic injury. Current research projects are focused toward understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms related to the cure of lung diseases including bronchopulmonary dysplasia, emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and bronchiolitis obliterans.
Scott Powers PhD
Dr. Powers will provide medical students with clinical and research tranining opportunities that match the medical student’s aims and professional goals. Medical students will gain exposure various methodological designs including a large, randomized controlled multisite behavior and nutrition trial for young children with cystic fibrosis that is now closed to recruitment, with data management and data cleaning currently in progress. Drs Powers will provide medical students with daily contact as needed to set training goals and monitor progress toward goals. Medical students will receive specific training in the utility of 3-day food recalls and nutrition science by our registered dietitian. In addition, medical students will specifically learn about the maturation of other projects in the lab from each of the team members, based on their expertise on the projects. Medical students will receive mentorship on abstract preparation and will be invited to collaborate on manuscripts, as appropriate.
Marc Rothenberg MD, PhD
Dr. Rothenberg’s lab has several areas of concentration. The main objective is to elucidate the processes involved in allergic responses in the gastrointestinal tract and lung using cutting-edge approaches of molecular biology, genetics, biochemistry, translational medicine, and computer computation. The importance of key molecules in the body that perpetuate the allergic responses by examination of genetically induced experimental mouse models are employed. Dr. Rothenberg’s lab characterizes the regulation and pathways responsible for eosinophil development and activation and tests the importance and dysfunction of these pathways in patients with inflammatory diseases such as eosinophilic esophagitis and hypereosinophilic syndromes. A direct clinical project includes identifying genetic variations that may predispose patients to eosinophilic disorders.
Michael Seid PhD
Dr. Seid’s research focuses on using behavioral and social science to improve care and outcomes for children with chronic health conditions. He has been Principal Investigator of numerous federally-funded grants, including grants to measure quality of care for vulnerable children, to reduce barriers to care for vulnerable children with asthma, to determine predictors of health-related quality of life for children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis and to develop and test a cell-phone based adherence intervention for adolescents with asthma and Type 1 diabetes.
John Shannon PhD
Research in Dr. Shannon’s laboratory is focused in two areas. First, Dr. Shannon is investigating the molecular mechanisms regulating the specification and patterning of lung epithelial progenitors from primitive endoderm in the early mouse embryo. This includes identifying new effector genes in this process, then defining their ontogeny, pattern of expression, and function through loss-of-function studies. A summer student could easily be incorporated into these studies. The second area is the functional differentiation of alveolar epithelial cells in the lung, particularly in the area of surfactant phospholipid biosynthesis. Dr. Shannon is currently funded to study LPCAT1, a gene that is critical for making the transition to air breathing at birth. A trainee in Dr. Shannon’s lab would be mentored to develop a hypothesis-driven project related to lung development, then trained in the methodologies needed to address the questions.
Narong Simakajornboon MD
Dr. Simakajornboon researches the correlation between periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD) in children and low iron storage in a larger patient population. The effect of iron therapy on PLMD is prospectively investigated in a double blinded, placebo-controlled approach. All pediatric patients with PLMD at CCHMC are being recruited into the study. An overnight polysomnographic evaluation is performed in all patients to confirm the presence and severity of disease. Complete blood count, serum levels of iron, total iron-binding capacity, percentage iron saturation and ferritin is obtained in all patients and compared with age and sex-matched control. Patients with low iron storage are randomly assigned to receive treatment with either iron sulfate or placebo. The treatment response will be measured by an improvement in clinical symptoms, actigraphy monitoring and overnight polysomnographic study. Medical students will participate in the recruitment and data analysis of this ongoing project.
Bruce Trapnell MD
Dr. Trapnell has a longstanding interest and effort in translational pulmonary research focused to molecular pathogenesis, diagnosis, and therapeutic development for rare lung diseases including cystic fibrosis, pulmonary alveolar proteinosis, alpha 1 antitrypsin deficiency, lymphangioleiomyomatosis and pediatric interstitial lung diseases. Dr. Trapnell’s basic, clinical, and translational research in animals and humans uses biochemical, physiologic, genetic, bioinformatics and clinical trial approaches.
Brian Varisco MD
Dr. Varisco is in critical care medicine and his laboratory is focused on how matrix remodeling regulates alveolar development and how matrix and matrix proteases alter vasculogenesis in the developing lung. His team discovered that a serine protease, chymotrypsin-like elastase 1, is expressed in the lung, co-localizes with areas of elastase activity, and may be important in alveolar development. Students will work with Dr. Varisco’s team to investigate the role that chymotrypsin-like elastase 1 may play in pulmonary microvascular development.
Yui-Hsi Wang PhD
Dr. Wang’s laboratory is investigating the mechanisms that govern the plasticity of tissue resident TH2 memory/effector cells in the airway. Dr. Wang is particularly interested in understanding how the inflammatory mediators, such as IL-1β, IL-33, and IL-25, regulate the development of IL-17-producing TH2 or IL-9-producing TH2 cells during airway allergic inflammation. The long term goal is to explore the roles of acquired inflammatory properties of IL-17-producing TH2 or IL-9-producing TH2 cells in contributing to the heterogeneity and severity of allergic diseases such as asthma.
Tim Weaver PhD
Dr. Weaver’s lab focuses on the molecular pathways that link mutations in the SFTPC gene (encoding surfactant protein C) to development of interstitial lung disease (ILD). Dr. Weaver focused to early molecular events involved in the identification and disposal of terminally misfolded SP-C. The long-term goal of this work is to design reagents that enhance rapid elimination of cytotoxic misfolded proteins. Dr. Weaver has also used transgenic technology to knockin disease-associated alleles into the mouse Sftpc locus. These mice genocopy human patients with ILD and are currently being used to characterize the natural history of the disease, identify biomarkers for diagnosis and prediction of disease progression, and develop novel treatment strategies. Summer medical students would be involved in analyses of these mouse models.
Jeff Whitsett MD
Dr. Whitsett leads a well-established laboratory that has focused its attention to the elucidation of cellular and molecular mechanisms regulating lung formation and function. The laboratory has a long-standing interest in the roles of surfactant proteins SP-A, SP-B, SP-C, SP-D, and GM-CSF in innate host defense and pulmonary function. The mechanisms controlling lung epithelial specific gene transcription are an active area of study, seeking to determine the functions of a number of transcription factors, including the members of the NKX, FOX, SOX, GATA, and ETS families of transcription factors that regulate lung cell differentiation. Genetic pathways mediating lung morphogenesis, maturation, and repair are actively studied, seeking to determine the roles of cell signaling and gene transcription in the pathogenesis of lung disease. The studies seek to understand the molecular pathways causing chronic lung diseases including asthma, cystic fibrosis, emphysema, and lung cancer. The laboratory makes extensive use of conditional, lung specific gene targeting in transgenic mice. Systems biology, with an emphasis on bioinformatics of genomic and expression data, are applied to the study of lung biology. In vivo and in vitro studies are designed to elucidate the cellular and molecular processes regulating lung function. There are many opportunities for the study of both established and novel pathways critical for lung formation and disease pathogenesis within the laboratory.
Kathryn Wikenheiser-Brokamp MD, PhD
Dr. Wikenheiser-Brokamp is a clinical pathologist with research programs in lung development and cancer. Her laboratory studies the genetic and developmental basis of lung disease, with specific interest in the molecular mechanisms controlling epithelial cell growth, differentiation and signaling. Dr. Wikenheiser-Brokamp is specifically interested in mechanisms underlying retinoblastoma (Rb), p16 and p53 tumor suppressor control of epithelial progenitor/stem cell growth and lung carcinogenesis. She also studies the role of Dicer1, and the miRNAs it generates, in lung disease. With mentorship by Dr. Wikenheiser-Brokamp and other laboratory members, the students design controlled experiments, organize and interpret data, and present their findings in oral and/or poster format at laboratory meetings and institutional symposia.
Nives Zimmermann MD
The main interest of Dr. Zimmermann’s laboratory is broadly focused on deciphering mechanisms of allergic diseases, primarily asthma. Eosinophils are the hallmark cell of allergic inflammation, including asthma. The long-term goals of the laboratory are 1) to understand the mechanisms of eosinophilia with the ultimate aim of changing the outcome of eosinophil-mediated diseases and 2) to understand the mechanisms of lung inflammation, in homeostasis and allergic disease. A variety of approaches are undertaken, including animal modeling and ex vivo cell and molecular biology. Currently Dr. Zimmermann’s laboratory is focused on molecular understanding of eosinophil survival in allergic inflammation and asthma; in other words, why are eosinophils recruited and why do they stay and lead to disease in some people and not in others. Possible student projects include functional assays with human eosinophils from patients with asthma in vitro or in mouse models of asthma.
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