Archive: 2013

Assistant Professor Xingbin Ai and colleagues report in the FASEB Journal that the development of allergic airways disease during stages of rapid lung growth can lead to long-term increases in the innervation of smooth muscle cells in the airways. This may be one mechanistic underpinning of the hyper-reactive airway responses characteristic of asthma, making the neurotrophin signaling pathway that mediated the increased innervation a potential target for fighting asthma.

A recent feature in Boston magazine highlighted Assistant Professor Allan Walkey and his discovery that sepsis mortality has been decreasing due to improvements in delivery of medical care (rather than new drug discoveries), as published in Critical Care Medicine.

Congratulations to Alexander Graham Bell Professor Avrum Spira for receiving a 2013 Alton Ochsner Award, presented at the meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians. This could be considered a “multi-generational” accomplishment, as Dr. Spira’s previous mentor in the Pulmonary Center, Professor Jerry Brody, was a 2010 recipient of the Ochsner Award! The award is for outstanding contributions relating smoking and disease, areas in which Drs. Spira and Brody have shown exceptional leadership.

Professor Alan Fine and colleagues report in the journal Development that mesothelial cells migrate from the pleura into the developing lungs to become smooth muscle cells in airways and vasculature as well as fibroblasts in the interstitium. The migration of these cells was mediated by Hedgehog signaling, and future studies will determine whether these cell and molecular pathways contribute to chronic lung diseases such as pulmonary arterial hypertension or idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

Congratulations to Professor Darrell Kotton for successfully launching the BU Center for Regenerative Medicine (CReM) as a truly independent entity. The CReM is a research unit on our campus which aims to advance stem cell research and regenerative medicine for the sake of patients, including those with lung diseases (led by Dr. Kotton along with Assistant Professors Wilson and Ikonomou) or diseases of other organ systems.

On June 8, 2013, Dr. Gordon Snider passed away, at 91 years of age. Dr. Snider was a founder of the BU Pulmonary Center and a luminary in the world of pulmonary medicine, as discussed in a brief obituary. He was a superb physician, scientist, leader, mentor, role model, inspiration, and friend. To honor his memory, the BU School of Medicine is establishing the Gordon L. Snider, MD, Memorial Lectureship on “The Impact of Basic Science on Pulmonary Medicine.” We are planning a Pulmonary Center celebration of Dr. Snider’s remarkable life, and we hope many will attend this 2014 event.

Assistant Professor Katrina Steiling and colleagues report in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine the results of transcriptionally profiling airway epithelial cells collected by bronchoscopy from COPD patients. They found that gene expression profiles in the airway epithelium reflect clinical status and treatment response, and results implicate the transcription factor ATF4 as a potential mediator for many of these gene expression changes within COPD airways.

Congratulations to 2 PhD students who successfully completed thesis defenses in June 2013, including Radhika Dixit who was mentored by Professor Alan Fine and Linh Aven who was mentored by Assistant Professor Xingbin Ai. Excellent work by the new doctors and their mentors!

Congratulations to PhD student Fadie Coleman in the lab of Professor Jay Mizgerd for receiving 3 awards, including the 2013 Boston University President’s Award at the BU Scholars Luncheon, to which she was invited after winning the Office of Technology Development Award during BU Scholars Day. Fadie was also this year’s recipient of the Corwin Award from the Department of Microbiology.