Andrew A Wilson, MD

Andrew A Wilson, MD

Trustees of Boston University, B U Medical Campus

Research Project:
Defining the alveolar epithelial response to SARS-CoV-2 and additional risk of cigarette smoke or e-cig vapor exposure

Grant Awarded:

  • COVID-19 Respiratory Virus Research Award

Research Topic:

  • basic biologic mechanisms

Research Disease:

  • COVID-19

In late 2019, a novel coronavirus strain now known as SARS-CoV-2 emerged in China and has subsequently spread around the globe, sickening millions and killing hundreds of thousands of people with the disease COVID-19. Disease outcomes have been associated with patient factors including fixed attributes such as age and other illnesses like diabetes, hypertension and COPD. Critically, early evidence likewise suggests a link between cigarette smoking and COVID-19 susceptibility and severity. Whether the use of electronic cigarettes might contribute to disease risk remains unknown but could be critical given its prevalence in the population. Studies to determine whether these common, modifiable behaviors increase COVID-19 risk are urgently needed. We will study a model of SARS-CoV-2 infection in patient-derived lung alveolar epithelial cells to determine whether cigarette smoke or e-cigarette vapor exposure increases associated risk or severity.


We have comprehensively characterized the response of human lung cells called iAT2s to infection with SARS-CoV-2. We have likewise begun testing the interaction between e-cigarette vapor exposure and SARS-CoV-2 infection in this system. In the upcoming year, we will test the hypothesis that cigarette smoke or e-cigarette vapor exposure renders human alveolar cells susceptible to infection or injury from SARS-CoV-2.

Page last updated: November 17, 2022

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