NYSCF – Druckenmiller Fellow Researches How to Help Lungs Repair Themselves
NYSCF – Druckenmiller Fellow Zhongwei Cao, PhD, conducts research that may yield breakthrough treatments for lung injury. Dr. Cao, Weill Cornell Medical College, focuses on experiments that move research towards harnessing the innate capacity of lung cells to self-repair. She authored a study in Nature Medicine that elucidates the mechanism behind how fibrosis, thickening and scarring of tissue between cells, can inhibit lung regeneration. The study zooms in on the hematopoietic-vascular niche, the microenvironment where stem cells are located, and parses how the niche regulates lung cell repair. Dr. Cao identifies specific receptors and genes activated when modeling the inflammation that occurs following lung injury and finds that recurring lung injury activates cell types that promote fibrosis and hinder lung repair. The paper, senior authored by Bi-Sen Ding, a NYSCF-Druckenmiller Fellowship alumnus and current Assistant Professor at Weill Cornell Medical College, further suggests that targeting the hematopoietic-vascular niche may provide fruitful therapies to induce lung regeneration.