Hongwei Yao, PhD, MD
Research Awards Nationwide Recipient (2013-2015)
University of Rochester, Rochester, NY
Link Between Cigarette Smoke and Lung Premature Aging
Cigarette smoking is the main risk factor for developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), accounting for at least 75 percent of COPD deaths. Recent research suggests COPD develops as a result of accelerated premature aging of the lungs. Despite knowledge linking cigarette smoke and premature lung aging, little is known about the mechanisms that cause this process. Dr. Yao hopes to identify the factors responsible for regulating cigarette smoke-induced premature aging in lung cells. He will focus on Sirtulin 1 (SIRT1), a gene with anti-aging activity. Outcomes of this research could contribute to development of novel and more selec-tive approaches and treatments to prevent or limit premature lung aging caused by tobacco smoke.