News Release

January 18, 2012

CONTACT: Karen Kreeger

Perelman School of Medicine

This release is available online at

Penn Lung Biologists to Receive $2.5 Million to Study Repair and Regeneration

PHILADELPHIA – The Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania is one of six institutions to be named part of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s Lung Repair and Regeneration Consortium (LRRC). Each of the institutions will receive $2.5 million over five years. Edward Morrisey, PhD, professor of Medicine and Cell and Developmental Biology and Scientific Director of the Penn Institute for Regenerative Medicine, will lead the Penn consortium.

Lung disease is a leading cause of death and disease in the world, and diseases of the lung such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are on the rise. The consortium will bring together investigators whose expertise spans basic science through translational medicine to study lung repair and tissue regeneration to fight lung diseases.

Asthma and COPD are chronic lung diseases that affect the bronchiolar airways of the lung and are leading causes of morbidity and mortality. Both diseases are thought to involve a chronic injury-repair cycle that leads to the eventual breakdown of normal airway structure and function.
The Penn grant will study the epigenetic control of lung repair and regeneration with a focus on chromatin remodeling factors and microRNA pathways. Epigenetics involves chemical modifications to DNA and its supporting proteins that affect gene expression.

Co-investigators at Penn, including Jonathan Epstein, MD, chair, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology; Rey A. Panettieri, Jr., MD, professor of Medicine; and Paul Gadue, PhD, assistant professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, will work with Dr. Morrisey to explore the role of pathways involving the enzyme histone deacetylase and microRNAs, both of which are part of the epigentics molecular machinery.

To apply regenerative medicine techniques to lung disease, the team aims to identify and characterize cell types that affect lung repair and regeneration and to learn how to maintain, grow, and differentiate the cells into mature and functioning airway epithelial cells. The team will also focus on using small molecule mediators of histone deacetylase activity and microRNAs to develop new therapies to alleviate the unmet needs of patients with asthma and COPD, as well as other airway diseases.


Penn Medicine is one of the world's leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $4.3 billion enterprise.

The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States for the past 17 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $392 million awarded in the 2013 fiscal year.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System's patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania -- recognized as one of the nation's top "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S. News & World Report; Penn Presbyterian Medical Center; Chester County Hospital; Lancaster General Health; Penn Wissahickon Hospice; and Pennsylvania Hospital -- the nation's first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional affiliated inpatient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region include Chestnut Hill Hospital and Good Shepherd Penn Partners, a partnership between Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network and Penn Medicine.

Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2013, Penn Medicine provided $814 million to benefit our community.