Jeff Whitsett MD
Dr. Whitsett is a neonatologist who 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.