Environmental insults are a major detrimental impact to respiratory health.

Therefore, chronic lung diseases are the research focus of the Institute of Lung Health and Immunity (LHI) and the Comprehensive Pneumology Center (CPC). We strive to elucidate the underlying mechanisms of diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung fibrosis, lung cancer, asthma and complications following lung transplantation (bronchiolitis obliterans) and translate them into therapeutic approaches for patients. We provide a unique interface between basic and clinical science that strengthens its major goal of determining and understanding the molecular mechanisms of chronic lung disease. This incorporates a focus on three Research Areas: 

Immunometabolic Reprogramming:

Lead: Isis Fernandez, MD

We strive towards pioneering experimental models of immunometabolic reprogramming in the lungs and translating our findings into meaningful diagnostic and therapeutic tools. The investigation of the interactions between inhaled matter and the pulmonary epimmunome facilitates a better understanding of the pathogenesis of chronic pulmonary diseases. It can lead to the identification of cellular and molecular signatures that are diagnostic for specific inhalatory exposures.

Cell Circuits in Systems Medicine of Lung Disease:

Lead: Herbert Schiller, PhD

The main aim of this research program is to understand how cells are wired together into circuits and thereby influence each other in lung health and disease. We study patient and mouse tissues, and organotypic ex vivo models at single cell resolution. This enables us to reconstruct regulatory cellular circuits and identify fundamental cellular and molecular mechanisms of lung disease and regeneration, as well as associated clinically relevant biomarkers in an era of precision medicine.

Environmental Barrier Immunity:

Lead: Tobias Stöger, PhD

Research here aims to understand the cellular pathways maintaining the functionality of the respiratory barrier and how tissue homeostasis gets affected by specific environmental challenges. So far, focus has been on acute or chronic exposure scenarios of cigarette smoke and combustion derived or engineered nanoparticles and their contribution to the development of chronic lung diseases such as COPD, asthma, and pulmonary fibrosis.

The LHI/CPC is a member of the DZL (CPC-M).