Among the most common causes of mortality and morbidity in the United States are diseases of the respiratory system, specifically, asthma, lung cancer, emphysema, chronic bronchitis and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. The faculty participating in the UC Davis Lung Center work to resolve the disease problems associated with the respiratory system, using a strong interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary approach which integrates basic cellular biology with animal models and clinical applications of therapeutic strategies. The Lung Center serves as the focal point for the large and diverse research community at UC Davis whose interests focus on the respiratory system.

Biomedical Research Program

The respiratory system serves as the interface for an organism with its gaseous environment. As a consequence, the respiratory system is the target for airborne pathogens, especially viruses and bacteria and inhaled toxic gases, including air pollutants such as ozone and environmental tobacco smoke. Because the respiratory system also receives the entire output from the right side of the heart, the respiratory system is a target for blood-borne toxicants and pathogens and a site of sequestration for metastasizing tumors. Defining the pathobiology of disease processes in the respiratory system and establishing effective therapeutic approaches is complicated by the high degree of cellular and architectural complexity of the system. UC Davis Lung Center serves as the focal point for development of integrated research programs to address major disease issues associated with the respiratory system. Because of the complexity of the respiratory system and the need to understand the basic mechanisms regulating the respiratory system's response to disease processes, UC Davis Lung Center promotes highly interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary integrated research programs.

There are over 30 faculty on the UC Davis campus whose research focuses on some aspect of respiratory disease. The faculty is drawn from the School of Medicine, School of Veterinary Medicine, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and the Division of Biological Sciences. The faculty come from 12 different departments within these schools and have a wide range of research capability and interests, including the fields of: cell biology, epidemiology, molecular biology, immunology, infectious diseases, physiology, pathology, pharmacology, toxicology, pediatrics, surgery, and pulmonary and critical care medicine. UC Davis Lung Center sponsors and organizes a weekly seminar series which attracts 40 to 60 individuals per week and serves as a forum for multidisciplinary presentations of research activities. Facilities maintained by the group include one of the premier air pollution exposure facilities in the country at the California Primate Research Center, the largest exposure facility for environmental tobacco smoke on the West Coast at the Institute of Toxicology and Environmental Health, and an extensive multidisciplinary Cellular Imaging and Quantitation Facility.

A major component of the UC Davis Lung Center is the training of graduate students and fellows as pulmonary research scientists. This training depends on a strong, in-depth program in a conventional discipline (i.e., biochemistry, molecular biology, cell and developmental biology, pathology, physiology, toxicology, epidemiology, etc.) coupled with a broad base in the other disciplines. Because the respiratory system is one of the most complex organ systems in the body, regardless of the perspective, all training is organized to ensure a broad, multidisciplinary base which will promote an understanding of the basic cellular and molecular mechanisms of disease and the physiological and pathobiologic basis of disease processes and the translation of research findings into applicable therapeutic approaches.

UC Davis Lung Center's research activity is currently organized around ten groups which include,

  • Immunology/Infectious Disease
  • Epithelial Cell Biology/Cystic Fibrosis
  • Interstitial Matrix Biology/Pulmonary Fibrosis
  • Inflammations/Airways Hyperreactivity
  • Lung Growth and Development/Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia
  • Environmental Toxicology/Biomolecular (Metabolic) Mechanisms of Lung Injury
  • Carcinogenesis
  • Occupational Environmental Medicine/Epidemiology
  • Lung Neurobiology/Dyspnea/Asthma
  • Pulmonary Circulation

Faculty join one or more of these interest groups based on their own research problems with the intent that future integrated research activities will grow out of these groups and interactions between the groups. This grouping activity also facilitates the identity of research programs in which graduate students and fellows may participate.