Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) occurs when chronic bronchitis and inflammation block the airways, causing irreversible damage to the lung’s air sacs. With a $25,000 grant from the University of Iowa Institute for Clinical and Translational Science (ICTS), Alejandro Pezzulo, MD, assistant professor of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Occupational Medicine, will examine the abnormal inflammatory responses in people with COPD.
“We don’t understand why some people smoke for years and have healthy lungs while other smokers develop disabling emphysema and chronic bronchitis,” Pezzulo said. “Our project will investigate the airway cells from both groups of people to identify how their responses differ.”
COPD currently affects more than 16 million Americans. Pezzulo’s future project plans to identify the COPD abnormal responses and offer novel diagnostic tests to treat or prevent COPD.
Since graduating from the Internal Medicine’s Physician Scientist Training Pathway program and joining faculty in 2017, Pezzulo has dedicated his efforts toward research. Shortly after taking his position, he received a Parker B. Francis Fellowship in Pulmonary Research and a three-year, $156,000 award. Using these funds, Pezzulo examined the mucus build up in patients with goblet cell metaplasia and published his study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation in 2019.