The Respiratory NanoBioengineering (RnB) lab, led by Prof. Duncan, aims to understand airway micro-physiology in health and disease to engineer new therapeutic strategies for obstructive lung diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and cystic fibrosis (CF). In our group, new models and measurements are designed to address the limitations of traditional methods used to study the lung airway epithelial surface to provide a more accurate view of mucus clearance. This will allow us determine under what conditions mucus is efficiently cleared from the lung and why it becomes stagnant in pulmonary diseases. In addition, we study how respiratory viruses avoid physiological clearance mechanisms to initiate infections that are especially detrimental in individuals with obstructive lung disease. Ultimately, the new methods developed in our lab to carefully examine lung health will help in design of improved therapies for pulmonary diseases. This research at the interface of engineering and medicine will provide a new perspective on pulmonary disease onset and progression. The disciplines of biochemistry, biophysics, engineering, and materials science all influence our approach to characterize complex biological systems on the nano- to microscale.
We are studying how biophysical and interfacial interactions between the mucus gel and lung airway surface impact mucus transport. To understand clearance dysfunction in respiratory diseases, we are engineering mucin biomaterials and tissue culture models to understand disease mechanisms.
Credit: Daniel Song
We thank the following organizations for supporting this work: