Research Project: Understanding the Molecular Drivers of Wildfire Smoke-Induced Lung Disease
Due to climate change, wildfire smoke is impacting human health to a greater degree with each passing year. Wildfire smoke worsens diseases like asthma and COPD, and also increased lung or heart disease-related deaths, and thus strategies must be developed to protect people from wildfire smoke. However, the molecular mechanisms that drive wildfire smoke-induced disease are not yet understood. We will address this gap in understanding by exposing mice to levels of woodsmoke air pollution equivalent to those experienced by hard hit communities living with annual wildfires. Using a custom-built inhalation facility and new functional genomic technology, we will collect and analyze cells in the lung to provide novel insights into the molecular drivers of wildfire smoke-induced lung disease. This will lead to the development of strategies to protect people increasingly impacted by exposure to wildfire smoke.
By combining a state-of-the-art woodsmoke exposure facility with new functional genomic technology, we are dissecting the molecular mechanisms that drive wildfire smoke-induced disease. Using this approach, we have identified some of primary cellular pathways and genes that dictate the response to woodsmoke inhalation. Over the next year, we will validate and expand upon these preliminary findings.