Dr. Whitsett, who will direct this Core, is an internationally recognized pulmonary biologist with more than 30 years of commitment to the CF Center. His research program has developed several transgenic technologies that have led to the first gut-corrected CF mouse, mice to study lung development and mucus production. He is one of the pioneers who developed recombinant human surfactant protein D, the first generation of artificial surfactants, which enables premature babies with respiratory distress syndrome to breathe more easily until their lungs are fully developed.
Under Dr. Whitsett’s leadership and with assistance from Drs. Xu and Salomonis, the Core will isolate primary airway epithelial cells from upper and lower airway brushings [in clinic (upper) and at the time of bronchoscopy (upper and lower), in collaboration with the Personalized Clinical Core], BALF of CF patients and will grow cells for monolayer-based studies (ion transport under voltage clamp conditions, airway surface volume, IF, and accompanying protein biochemistry). All of these capabilities currently exist at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. Whitsett lab will standardize a method of FACS sorting and isolation of single cells and temporally and spatially map gene expression for airway epithelial cells (and potentially other cell types, including neutrophils, fibroblasts, and alveolar macrophages, as needed by investigators) using Drop-Seq and deep RNA sequencing that is well established in the laboratories. The related bioinformatics will be performed through the Core. The technology and services of the Core will be made available to all interested investigators (local, national, and international). In addition, investigators who want to develop these methods in their own institution will have access to relevant training through the Atlas of the Respiratory Epithelial Cells Core.