What goes wrong in chronic lung disease


We investigate molecular and cellular mechanisms in asthma, smoking and viral induced lung disease and also lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM)- a rare but devastating lung disease of young women which resembles a slow growing cancer


Professor Judith Black

Research Location

Camperdown - Woolcock Institute of Medical Research

Program Type



We use human lung cells and tissues from volunteers with asthma and patients undergoing lung resection to understand their abnormal behaviour in chronic lung disease. We were the first to report that there are basic defects in the airway smooth muscle cell in asthma which lead to exaggerated proliferation and a build up of muscle in the airways which causes the heightened narrowing that occurs in response to exercise, cold air, allergens and occupational agents. This increase in muscle along with thickening of the airway wall due to increased deposition of fibrotic tissue results in airway remodelling - structural changes which are not amenable to reversal or prevention with current asthma therapy. Understanding the pathways leading to these changes will enable us to target them specifically to treat airway remodelling. LAM is fatal disease of young women for which there is no treatment or cure. Smooth muscle-like cells invade the lung and cause cystic destruction and lung collapse. In both asthma and LAM we have discovered that particular proteins which could prevent some of these pathological events are missing. Finding out why these are missing could constitute major breakthroughs in these two diseases.

Additional Information

Embarking on a PhD with our team is a great journey of discovery in an environment which is totally research focused.

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Asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM), pulmonary fibrosis, airway remodelling, chronic lung disease, airway smooth muscle

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 998