Research efforts in the Division of Respiratory Medicine have remained relatively small, primarily because the first priority of the division has been the establishment of an excellent clinical program. Nonetheless, each faculty member is developing areas of interest for scholarship.

  • Researchers in Dr. Julio Pérez Fontán’s lab investigate how the nervous system influences the structure and function of the airways. Physiological and neuroanatomical studies have contributed to the present view of the bronchomotor system as an integral part of breathing control, through the relationships between vagal and phrenic outflows and the overlap between the bronchomotor and breathing networks. Recent attention has been focused on the participation of sensory neuropeptides in the regulation of the inflammatory response.
  • Dr. Carolyn Cannon’s research focuses on the pathogenesis of pulmonary infection with several related bacterial species found in the lungs of patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) and development of novel therapies to treat these infections. The Cannon laboratory explores the role that the defective gene and protein underlying CF plays in clearance of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Burkholderia cepacia complex (Bcc) organisms. The group also studies the activity of a series of novel silver-based antimicrobials, silver N-heterocyclic carbene complexes (SCCs), which inhibit the growth of all bacterial species tested to date, including CF lung pathogens. Nebulized SCCs have efficacy in mouse infection models.

    The Cannon group is working within a Program of Excellence in Nanotechnology to optimize drug delivery. The group also studies silver detoxification mechanisms by both bacteria and respiratory epithelium. Expanding on the work of Dr. Claude Prestidge, Dr. Cannon has increased the involvement of the patients in the Cystic Fibrosis Care and Teaching Center at Children’s Medical Center in clinical trials of new therapies, by joining the Therapeutics Development Network (TDN) of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
  • Dr. Peter Luckett’s research interests center on acute lung injury, mechanical ventilation, near-fatal asthma, pulmonary outcomes in neuromuscular disease, and clinical trials in pediatric critical care. Recent work includes development of a clinical trial of strict glucose control in critically ill children, using a computer-driven protocol.
  • The respiratory consequences of early-onset scoliosis are the focus of Dr. Peter Schochet’s research.