Susan E. Wert, PhD

Academic Affiliations

Associate Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics

Phone 513-636-4297

Fax 513-636-7868



Lung development, injury and repair as it pertains to molecular morphology (gene and protein expression in situ); ultrastructure, and histopathology of the developing and adult lung; the histopathology of the human lung as it relates to interstitial lung disease, especially to genetic disorders of surfactant dysfunction in the neonatal and pediatric population that are caused by mutations in the human SFTPC, SFTPB, ABCA3, and NKX2-1 genes.


Structural morphology of the lung; tissue responses to acute and chronic lung injury; morphogenesis and cytodifferentiation of the developing lung; use of gene knock out and transgenic mouse models to study mechanisms of lung development and genetic lung disease; development of molecular markers to study respiratory epithelial cell differentiation and for cell lineage studies; image analysis and morphometry.

Dr. Wert has a long-standing scientific interest in lung development, malformations, and disease with an emphasis on the regulation of morphogenesis and cytodifferentiation of the respiratory tract in both mice and humans. She has extensive experience and expertise in electron microscopy, histochemistry, in situ hybridization, immunohistochemistry and immunofluorescence techniques, as well as in microscopy, image analysis, and morphometry. In her capacity as director of the Molecular Morphology Core (1991-2013), she has trained numerous technicians, graduate students, clinical fellows, post-docs, research associates, faculty and visiting scholars in these techniques. Dr. Wert has co-authored over 100 peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, and reviews with Dr. Jeffrey Whitsett (Cincinnati Children's), describing studies related to transgenic mouse models of normal and abnormal lung development, cytodifferentiation, lung injury and repair, as well as surfactant metabolism and dysfunction in both mice and humans. She has a long-standing collaboration with Drs. Lawrence Nogee (Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore MD), Aaron Hamvas (Washington University, St. Louis, MO, and Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine) and Bruce Trapnell (Cincinnati Children's) to identify and describe lung disorders caused by mutations in the human SFTPB, SFTPC, ABCA3, NKX2-1, and GM-CSFR genes. These are rare genetic diseases that disrupt surfactant function and metabolism in the lung, resulting in respiratory distress and failure at birth, or in chronic interstitial lung disease in older infants, children, adolescents and adults.

Currently, Dr. Wert is a consultant for the NHLBI Molecular Atlas of Lung Development Program (LungMAP) Consortium, which is a cooperative research project tasked with building an integrated, open-access database to characterize the molecular anatomy of the later stages of lung development in both mice and humans. As co-chair and scientific domain lead for the ontology subcommittee, Dr. Wert has developed comprehensive anatomical ontologies for mouse and human lung maturation. She also assists with ongoing analysis of protein/gene expression in the lung during alveolar (airspace) development and maturation, especially with the interpretation of immunofluorescence assays utilizing cell-specific markers and confocal microscopy.

PhD: Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH, 1988.

Postdoctoral Fellowship: Perinatology, Division of Neonatology, Department of Pediatrics, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH, 1988-1991.

View PubMed Publications

Wert SE. Normal and Abnormal Structural Development of the Lung. In: “Fetal and Neonatal Physiology”; 5th edition; Polin RA, Abman SH, Rowitch DH, Benitz WE, Fox WW. (Eds); Saunders; Philadelphia. 2016;627-641.

Wert SE, Wikenhieser-Brokamp KA. Congenital Malformations of the Lung. In: “Fetal Lung Development”; Jobe A, Whitsett JA, Abman S (Eds.); Cambridge University Press; Cambridge. 2016;94-125.

Whitsett JA, Pryhuber GS, Rice WR, Wert SE. Acute respiratory disorders. In: "Avery’s Neonatology: Pathophysiology and Management of the Newborn"; 7th edition; MacDonald MG, Seshia MK (Eds). Wolters Kluwer (Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins; Philadelphia). 2016;397-415.

Fan LL, Dishop MK, Galambos C, Askin FB, White FV, Langston C, Liptzin DR, Kroehl ME, Deutsch GH, Young LR, Kurland G, Hagood J, Dell S, Trapnell BC, Deterding RR; Children’s Interstitial and Diffuse Lung Disease Research Network (chILDRN). Diffuse lung disease in biopsied children 2 to 18 years of age. Application of the chILD classification scheme. Ann Am Thorac Soc. 2015 Oct;12(10):1498-505.

Rankin SA, Thi Tran H, Wlizla M, Mancini P, Shifley ET, Bloor SD, Han L, Vleminckx K, Wert SE, Zorn AM. A molecular atlas of Xenopus respiratory system development. Dev Dyn. 2015 Jan;244(1):69-85.

Wagh PK, Gardner MA, Ma X, Callahan M, Shannon JM, Wert SE, Messinger YH, Dehner LP, Hill DA, Wikenheiser-Brokamp KA. Cell and developmental stage-specific Dicer1 ablation in the lung epithelium models cystic pleuropulmonary blastoma. J Pathol. 2015 May;236(1):41-52.

Whitsett JA, Wert SE, Weaver TE. Diseases of pulmonary surfactant homeostasis. Annu Rev Pathol. 2015 Jan 24;10:371-93.

Lange AW, Haitchi, HM, LeCras TD, Sridharan A, Xu Y, Wert SE, James J, Udell N, Thurner PJ, Whitsett JA. Sox17 is required for normal pulmonary vascular morphogenesis. Dev Biol. 2014 Mar 1;387(1):109-20.

Wambach JA, Casey AM, Fishman MP, Wegner DJ, Wert SE, Cole FS, Hamvas A, Nogee LM. Genotype-phenotype correlations for infants and children with ABCA3 deficiency. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2014 Jun 15;189(12):1538-43.

Bell SM, Zhang L, Xu Y, Besnard V, Wert SE, Shroyer N, Whitsett JA. Kruppel-like factor 5 controls villus formation and initiation of cytodifferentiation in the embryonic intestinal epithelium. Dev Biol. 2013 Mar 15;375(2):128-39.

OSR Transcription Factors Regulate Embryonic Lung Development. Co-investigator. National Institutes of Health/National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Aug 2012 - Dec 2017. R01HL114898.

Transcriptional programming of asthma related pathology in respiratory epithelia. Co-investigator. National Institutes of Health/National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Apr 2013 - Mar 2018. R01HL095580-05.