Project 1: Heavy Metal Induced Airway Remodeling and COPD

Our hypothesis is that exposure to particulate matter containing heavy metals (Cd, As and Mn) leads to induction and activation of peptidyl arginine deiminase 2 (PAD2) in lung macrophages and citrullination of vimentin. Activation of TLR4 in airway fibroblasts by citrullinated vimentin leads to a pro-invasive, pro-fibrogenic phenotype, with subsequent airway remodeling and COPD.

Project 2: Asthma in Children Exposed to Heavy Metals

Our hypothesis to be tested in this project is that heavy metal (HM) exposures in children induce airway epithelium injury/activation that triggers the release of exosomal lipids to activate fibroblasts(Fbs)/smooth muscle cells (SMCs) that contribute to airway hyper-responsiveness and remodeling in asthma.

Project 3: Heavy Metals Exacerbate Lower Respiratory Tract Infections

We postulate that exposure to heavy metals exacerbates LRTI and lung injury due to the persistence of lung macrophages that maintain a classically activated phenotype.

Project 4: Advanced Approaches to Quantifying Exposure to Heavy Metals

We hypothesize that development of a novel f-LIBS/LEAFS (femto- laser induced breakdown spectroscopy/laser excited atomic fluorescence spectroscopy) and mid-IR frequency comb “Optical Nose” systems will enable ultrasensitive and rapid detection of Cd, Mn, As, and biomarkers associated with exposure to these metals.

Project 5: NANO-Micro Hybrid Fibrous Materials for Contaminant Removal and Site Remediation

Can innovative composite Materials by Design result in reliable capture and adsorption of Cd, Mn, and As from soil and buildings?