The Post Lab research program focuses on lung-related development, injury and repair in several core areas.
Lung Formation: Alveolar vessel and septa formation is tightly linked with vascularization (development of the capillary network) being the driving force of alveolar septation. A better understanding of the molecular mechanisms regulating vessel formation during alveolar lung development may provide targets for accelerating lung growth and maturation.
Lung Lipid Metabolism: Sphingolipids are involved in the regulation of many cellular processes. Ceramides trigger cell death while sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) promotes cell survival. Thus, ceramides and S1P form a rheostat that balances apoptosis and proliferation; processes gone awry in the ventilated preterm lung. Understanding and manipulation of the ceramide-S1P axis in the injured newborn lung may benefit its repair. Another line of investigation concerns lipidomics (large scale study of lipid quantity and function which may provide a molecular signature to a certain pathway or a disease condition). We perform lipidomic analysis to identify potential molecular lipid signatures in the tracheal fluid or sputum of patients (with bronchopulmonary dysplasia, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) as predictors and prognostic markers for outcomes.
Ventilation and Lung Development: Mechanical strain in the developing lung is a physiological process, necessary for normal lung development. However, prolonged mechanical ventilation of the very preterm infant (with O2) hinders development and contributes to development of bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD). Understanding the developing lung’s response to ‘stretch’ will make it possible to reduce the adverse consequences of mechanical ventilation.
Stem Cells and Lung Regeneration: Lung disease cannot currently be ‘fixed’; it can be supported so the lungs are allowed to heal. A regenerative approach for human lung disease is not yet possible; however, identifying factors required for the differentiation of pluripotent stem cells into lung-specific cells may enable therapeutic stem cell strategies for key lung disorders, including bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD).
Preeclampsia: Preterm birth can be due to preeclampsia, a complex and serious disorder of human pregnancy and the leading cause of fetal and maternal morbidity and mortality worldwide, affecting approximately five to seven per cent of all pregnancies. Although the etiology and pathophysiology of this disease remains an enigma, it is accepted that the presence of the placenta, not the fetus, is at the origin of this disease. In collaboration with the Mother and Infant Research Group at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, we investigate normal and abnormal placentation.
Key phrases include Development lung biology; Lung lipid biochemistry; Lung mechanobiology; Ventilation-induced lung injury, BPD, CF, and COPD (chronic lung disease); Lung regeneration (stem cells, tissue engineering, etc.); Placental development and disease; and Biomaker development.