Division of Lung Diseases

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), one of 27 institutes and centers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), leads a national program in the causes, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases of the heart, blood vessels, lungs, and blood; in sleep disorders; and in the uses of blood and blood resources. The Institute is responsible for research on three of the four leading causes of death in the United States-heart disease, stroke, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Through research in its laboratories and through extramural funding of investigator- and institute-initiated research grants and contracts, it conducts and supports scientific research that includes basic investigations, clinical studies, epidemiological studies, clinical trials, technology development and transfer, and demonstration and education projects. The Institute also supports research training and career development awards


The Division of Lung Diseases (DLD) supports research on the causes, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of lung diseases and sleep disorders. Research is funded through investigator-initiated and Institute-initiated grant programs and through contract programs in areas including asthma, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis, respiratory neurobiology, sleep-disordered breathing, critical care and acute lung injury, developmental biology and pediatric pulmonary diseases, immunologic and fibrotic pulmonary disease, rare lung disorders, pulmonary vascular disease, and pulmonary complications of AIDS and tuberculosis. The Division is responsible for monitoring the latest research developments in the extramural scientific community as well as identifying research gaps and needs, obtaining advice from experts in the field, and implementing programs to address new opportunities. The DLD has three branches, the Airway Biology and Disease Branch, the Lung Biology and Disease Branch, and the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research.


The Airway Biology and Disease Branch supports research and research training in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, cystic fibrosis, bronchiolitis, lung imaging, and airway function in health and disease. The Branch is organized into four scientific programs.

Thomas Croxton, Ph.D., M.D., Branch Chief
E-mail: croxtont@nhlbi.nih.gov

Scientific Research Programs:


The Program supports research related to asthma, including the role of immunologic and nonimmunologic events and inflammation in the pathogenesis of asthma. Research focuses on inflammatory cells, mediators of inflammation (cytokines), and adhesion molecules; the genetics of asthma and atopy; airway remodeling and repair in asthma; the role of chronobiology in nocturnal asthma; the mechanisms of severe asthma; and regulation of mucous hypersecretion and mucous cell metaplasia. The Program also supports research on the clinical management of asthma in adults and children. Other activities include health education research as well as demonstration and education projects on asthma management.

Patricia Noel, Ph.D., Lead Program Director
E-mail: noelp@nhlbi.nih.gov

Cystic Fibrosis

The Program supports research on the function of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) and on how CFTR dysfunction causes lung disease. Research focuses on airway epithelial ion transport, airway surface liquids, animal and cellular models for cystic fibrosis, signaling pathways in airway cells, regulation of mucin expression and secretion, development of treatments, and mechanisms underlying the infectious and inflammatory aspects of cystic fibrosis lung disease.

Susan Banks-Schlegel, Ph.D., Program Director
E-mail: schleges@nhlbi.nih.gov

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease/Environment

The Program supports research on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other diseases of the lung related to smoking or environmental exposures. Research areas focus on the management of COPD and the pathogenic mechanisms of the development and progression of COPD. The Program is particularly interested in mechanisms of injury and repair in the lung, pathways involved in the regulation of airway mucous secretion, genetic determinants of lung disease, gene therapeutic approaches to treat lung disease, and the properties and health effects of air pollution, including determinants of individual susceptibility to pollution. Research also includes the pathogenesis of emphysema and lung disease associated with alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency. Applied studies are developing new methods of lung imaging by computed x-ray tomography or magnetic resonance imaging and are testing their ability to provide a better characterization of changes that occur in a lung with disease. A growing area of interest is health education research and demonstration and education projects on disease management.

Antonello Punturieri, M.D., Ph.D., Program Director
E-mail: punturieria@nhlbi.nih.gov

Genetics, Genomics, and Advanced Technologies

The Program supports and coordinates research on innovative genetics, genomics, and biotechnology programs to advance discovery of lung disease risk, mechanisms of lung disease, and appropriate treatment strategies. Areas of research include: Programs of Genomic Applications, the Pharmacogenetics Research Network, clinical proteomics and proteomic centers, and systems biology. This program represents the Division on NHLBI-wide and NIH-wide programs to develop and implement cutting edge genetic, genomic, and biotechnology research related to pulmonary diseases.

Weiniu Gan, Ph.D., Program Director
E-mail: ganw2@nhlbi.nih.gov


The Lung Biology and Disease Branch supports research and research training in lung cell and vascular biology, including pulmonary hypertension, lung development and pediatric lung diseases, stem cell biology, acute lung injury and critical care medicine, lung immunobiology and interstitial lung diseases, lung transplantation, lymphangioleiomyomatosis, lung imaging, and pulmonary conditions associated with AIDS, including tuberculosis. The Branch is organized into five scientific programs.

Dorothy Gail, Ph.D., Branch Chief
E-mail: gaild@nhlbi.nih.gov

Scientific Research Programs:


The Program supports research on the course and pulmonary manifestations of HIV infection and tuberculosis. It oversees investigations of cellular and molecular interactions between the infectious agents and lung cells, pulmonary immune mechanisms important in the pulmonary pathophysiology of HIV and associated opportunistic infections, lung specific delivery of therapeutic agents, and behavioral interventions. The Program also develops tuberculosis curricula for medical schools.

Hannah Peavy, M.D., Lead Program Director
E-mail: peavyh@nhlbi.nih.gov

Critical Care/Acute Lung Injury

The Program supports research on pathogenesis, treatment and prevention of acute lung injury and the acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Research topics include identification of candidate genes and genetic factors predisposing to acute lung injury and ARDS; investigation of cellular responses to inflammation; mechanisms of fluid exudation and resorption in the lung; interactions of coagulation pathways with inflammatory mediators; the role and mechanisms of stretch and mechanical injury in lung inflammation; molecular mechanisms of oxidant, cytokine, and enzyme-induced tissue injury; and the role of innate immunity in the pathogenesis of acute lung injury. The program also supports the development of new diagnostic tools for detection of acute lung injury, artificial lung development, and oversees clinical studies of therapies for ARDS, including the ARDS network.

Andrea Harabin, Ph.D., Program Director
E-mail: harabina@nhlbi.nih.gov

Developmental Biology/Pediatric Pulmonary Diseases

The Program supports research on the temporal/spatial relationships between genetic determinants of lung development; the growth factors and cytokines that regulate lung development, growth, and repair; and the role of inflammation in the development of chronic lung disease. It also focuses on pediatric pulmonary diseases in infants and children, including bronchopulmonary dysplasia, lung hypoplasia, persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn, viral diseases in infancy and early childhood, and chronic bronchiolitis. Identification of lung stem cells and exploration of lung cell based therapy approaches are also supported by this program.

Carol J. Blaisdell, M.D., Program Director
E-mail: blaisdellcj@nhlbi.nih.gov

Qing "Sara" Lin, Ph.D., Program Director
E-mail: linq@nhlbi.nih.gov


The Program supports research on interstitial pulmonary fibrosis, sarcoidosis, occupational and environmental lung diseases, and the role of the immune response and inflammation in these diseases. It also investigates lung immunobiology and lung transplantation, the regulation of collagen genes, the mechanisms by which immune system and inflammatory mediators initiate or regulate interstitial lung diseases, the genetics and immunopathogenesis of sarcoidosis, pulmonary fibrosis, and the pathogenesis of lymphangioleiomyomatosis. The Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Network is supported by the Program.

Jerry Eu, M.D., Program Director
E-mail: jerry.eu@nih.gov

Lung Cell/Vascular Biology

The Program supports investigations of pulmonary vascular biology and disease. Research focuses on etiology, pathogenesis, and pharmacogenetics of pulmonary hypertension and associated right ventricular disease, prospective studies of pulmonary embolism pathogenesis and diagnosis, and molecular and physiologic regulation of the pulmonary vasculature and lymphatics. The Program also includes research on the regulation of the barrier function of pulmonary endothelial cells and regulation of lung permeability and fluid balance.

Timothy M. Moore, M.D., Ph.D., Program Director
E-mail: mooretm@nhlbi.nih.gov


The National Center on Sleep Disorders Research (NCSDR) supports research and research training related to sleep disordered breathing, and the fundamental functions of sleep and circadian rhythms. The center also stewards several forums that facilitate the coordination of sleep research across NIH, other federal agencies and outside organizations, including the Sleep Disorders Research Advisory Board and a Trans-NIH Sleep Research Coordinating Committee. The center also participates in the translation of new sleep research findings for dissemination to health care professionals and the public.

Michael Twery, Ph.D., Director
E-mail: twerym@nhlbi.nih.gov


This program supports research on the neurobiology of respiratory control including mechanisms of chemosensitivity, rhythmogenesis, sensory processing, and lung pathphysiology associated with these mechanisms. The neurobiological, developmental, and metabolic etiology of sleep-related respiratory disorders, hypoxia, and hypercapnia are topics of particular interest. Specific study topics include how hypoxia alters the molecular biology of ventilatory control, identification of genetic risk factors associated with sleep and breathing disorders, and the molecular biology of circadian rhythms. Research also focuses on the control of upper airway motor tone during sleep, and in disorders such as sleep disordered breathing (SDB). The fundamental neurobiology of sleep and the effects of sleep deprivation including circadian-coupled pathophysiology in peripheral tissues are also areas of interest. Research training in these research domains is supported using a variety of programs and mechanisms.

Aaron D. Laposky, Ph.D., Program Director
E-mail: laposkya@nhlbi.nih.gov

Sleep Disorders Medicine

This program supports research on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of SDB and other sleep disorders implicated in the pathophysiology of heart, lung, and blood diseases and risk factors. Studies include the development of devices for detecting SDB, testing new treatment strategies, clinical trials, and comparative effectiveness research to identify the superiority of two existing treatments. Studies are underway to understand how untreated SDB contributes to problems in child development and behavior and to evaluate potential treatment strategies for children. Positive-airway pressure devices (PAP), oral appliances, and surgery are common physician recommended treatments for SDB. This program supports research on whether these treatments improve SDB-related outcomes such as cognitive function, cardiovascular disease risk, and metabolic disease, and how to improve them. Research to improve our understanding of the barriers involving adherence to physician recommended SDB therapies such as weight loss and PAP is also underway. A topic of ongoing research concerns the impact of lifestyle choices characterized by sleep deprivation (e.g. shift work) and untreated sleep disorders affect public health, individual safety, and medical practice. Clinical research training in these domains is supported using a variety of programs and mechanisms.

Michael Twery, Ph.D., Acting Program Director
E-mail: twerym@nhlbi.nih.gov

For further information contact:

Division of Lung Diseases
National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
ATTN: Web Site Inquiries
Two Rockledge Center, Suite 10042
6701 Rockledge Dr. MSC 7952
Bethesda, Maryland 20892-7952

Additional phone numbers are available in the Abbreviated Staff Directory.

Last Updated October 2012

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