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The Alvira Lab

In contrast to other organs, the lung completes a significant portion of its development immediately prior to and after birth.  During this stage of alveolarization, division of the alveolar ducts into alveolar sacs by secondary septation, and expansion of the pulmonary capillary bed via angiogenesis increase the gas exchange surface area of the lung by 20-fold.  However, postnatal completion of growth renders the lung highly susceptible to environmental insults that disrupt this developmental program. 

postnatal completion of growth renders the lung highly susceptible to environmental insults that disrupt this developmental program

This is particularly evident in the setting of preterm birth, where disruption of alveolarization causes bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), a chronic lung disease associated with significant morbidity during infancy and a higher risk for the development of future lung diseases during adulthood.Pulmonary angiogenesis is essential for alveolarization, and disruption of angiogenesis contributes to the pathogenesis of BPD. The overall objective of the Alvira Laboratory is to elucidate the molecular mechanisms that direct pulmonary angiogenesis and alveolar development. To this end, the lab is currently focused on three fundamental scientific goals: (i) identification of the signaling pathways that regulate the transition between the saccular and alveolar stages of lung development; (ii) exploration of the interplay between postnatal vascular and alveolar development; and (iii) determination of developmentally regulated pathways that mediate lung repair after injury.