Respiratory Medicine

Respiratory Medicine

Respiratory diseases are increasing in prevalence and mortality, and today are the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. The DCRI’s Respiratory Research program includes physicians with first-hand experience treating patients with diverse respiratory problems and expertise in conducting clinical and translational research in patient populations with respiratory disease.

Faculty are drawn from the Duke University School of Medicine’s division of pulmonary and critical care medicine, consistently ranked among the top 10 programs in the United States.

A Pragmatic Approach to Respiratory Research

Respiratory research at the DCRI is distinguished by world-class faculty leading cutting-edge programs in airway biology, environmental-health sciences, and lung fibrosis. Our team has coordinated multicenter trials in pulmonary diseases, including idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and lung transplantation. And through Duke, we’re connected to one of the largest and most successful lung-transplant programs in North America. We’re trained physicians and trained researchers who understand the biology of the disease because we care for the patient population every day. Our investigators have pioneered new and pragmatic approaches to obtain clinical data for registry and trial studies improving study efficiency and data quality.

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Respiratory Disease Trial Experience

The DCRI Respiratory team has advanced training in study design, biostatistics, regulatory affairs, and clinical trials. It also has specific expertise in:

  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome
  • Asthma
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Hyperbaric medicine
  • Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF)
  • Interventional pulmonology
  • Lung cancer
  • Lung injury following bone marrow transplantation
  • Lung transplantation
  • Pediatric lung disease
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Sarcoid

Research Highlights

The Survival Benefit of Lung Transplantation in the Modern Era of Lung Allocation.

Patients undergoing lung transplantation receive a significant survival benefit, and patients with a higher lung allocation score (LAS) receive the greatest potential benefit, according to a new study from DCRI researchers.

LungMAP seeks to improve lung health. We offer a web-based data resource (BREATH) for investigation into processes that regulate lung development.

A multi-disciplinary team of investigators from DCRI, RTI International, and Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center apply novel data management and bioinformatics approaches to create the Bioinformatics REsource ATlas for the Healthy lung (BREATH) database.

DCRI, MURDOCK Study launch five-year COPD research collaboration.

Duke University’s MURDOCK Study in Kannapolis and the DCRI’s Respiratory Research program have partnered to launch a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) registry. The MURDOCK Study has started recruiting 850 participants for the MURDOCK COPD Study, a five-year observational study to better understand the progression of COPD in community members.

Respiratory Leadership at the DCRI

Scott M. Palmer, MD, MHS, Director

Scott M. Palmer, MD, MHS, leads a successful program of clinical, basic and translational research in transplantation and advanced lung diseases. He currently directs the respiratory research program at the DCRI and serves as Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Medicine.

pulmonary-photo-shoot_2012_butch_8819Palmer has more than 150 peer reviewed publications, received numerous awards, including election into the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI) in 2012, chaired many sessions at national and international meetings, serves regularly on NIH study sections, and is on the editorial board of many prominent journals. He is also Associate Director of the Clinical Research Training Program at Duke and has personally mentored over 40 pre-and post-doctoral trainees, many of whom are now engaged in their own successful research careers.

His scientific accomplishments include the first human studies to demonstrate the importance of innate immunity in transplant rejection and completion of a prospective multicenter study that improved CMV prevention after lung transplantation.

DCRI Respiratory Faculty

Trial-Tested, Patient-Centered

Our Respiratory faculty consists of members of Duke University School of Medicine’s Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, an institution that consistently ranks among the top-10 programs in the United States. These faculty members have hands-on experience treating patients with diverse respiratory problems and offer expertise in conducting clinical and translational research in patient populations with respiratory disease.

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Selected Research and Partnerships

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
  • IPFnet: The DCRI serves as the data-coordinating center for IPFnet, a network of research centers dedicated to the study of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). Established by the NHLBI in 2005, IPFnet seeks effective therapies for patients at every stage of this devastating disease.
  • Lung Regeneration and Repair Consortium (LRRC): As administrative-coordinating center for the LRRC, the DCRI funds collaborative grants and supports the training and development of the next generation of researchers. LRRC’s goal is to promote basic research into the mechanisms of lung injury and repair in order to develop new and innovative therapies.
  • Molecular Atlas of Lung Development—Data Coordinating Center: Seeks to define the molecular processes of normal human lung development.
NIAID (National Institute of Allergy Immunology and Infectious Disease)
  • The Lung Transplant Clinical Trials Network (LT-CTN): Leverages the clinical and research expertise of five top lung-transplant programs to advance lung transplant and improve patient outcomes.
Columbia University: Obesity, Inflammation, and Lung Injury after Lung Transplantation

Determining whether adipose tissue inflammation contributes to the risk of PGD following lung transplantation.

CDC: Proteomics of Flavorings-Induced Airway Disease

Discovering novel biomarkers of diacetyl pulmonary toxicity, an important cause of flavoring-induced lung disease.

Bristol-Myers Company: Phase II Study of Safety and Efficacy in Subjects with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis

Studies the safety and efficacy of BMS-986020 in subjects with IPF.

Boehringer Ingelheim Corporation: Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis—PROspective Outcomes (IPF-PRO) Registry

Creating a prospective, observational multicenter registry of patients with a diagnosis of IPF.

Gilead Sciences
  • AZLI in Lung-Transplant Recipients: Studying aztreonam lysine for inhalation (AZLI) in the treatment of BOS after lung transplantation.
  • AZLI in the Treatment of Early Bronchiolitis Obliterans Syndrome: Studying aztreonam lysine for inhalation (AZLI) in the treatment of BOS after lung transplantation. (Project delayed due to drug shortage.)
  • Genetics of IPF
The Biomarker Factory: Cross-Sectional Blood Banking and Processing

Procurement, processing, and inventory of whole-blood samples from 50 Duke lung-transplant recipients.

Duke University Hospital Ranks #5 Nationally in Pulmonology

US News & World Report ranked Duke University Hospital #5. A hospital's overall Pulmonology score is based on various data categories, including volume of high-risk patients, nurse staffing and patient survival. The 50 top-scoring hospitals are nationally ranked.

The U.S. News analysis of hospitals includes data from nearly 5,000 centers across multiple clinical specialties, procedures and conditions. Scores are based on a variety of patient outcome and care-related factors, such as patient safety and nurse staffing. Hospitals are ranked nationally in specialties and regionally in states and major metro areas. U.S. News assigns a rating to hospitals in a handful of common procedures and conditions, including hip replacement and COPD. Duke University Hospital is ranked nationally in 13 adult specialties and 10 children's specialties. It also achieved the highest rating possible in 9 procedures or conditions.