Ross Summer, MD
Dr Summer's laboratory focuses on lung metabolism and understanding how local and systemic metabolic derangements contribute to the onset and progression of lung diseases.
One major area of investigation is on the relationship between obesity and acute lung injury. Recent epidemiological studies indicate that a paradoxical relationship exists between obesity and acute lung injury, in that, obese individuals are at increased risk for developing acute lung injury but outcomes in established disease are improved when compared to lean patients. In these investigations, Dr. Summer's laboratory is utilizing genetic and diet-induced obesity models to understand how injury and inflammatory responses differ during obesity. These studies aim to direct future clinical investigations focusing on the prevention and the treatment of acute lung injury in lean and obese subjects.
In related studies, Dr Summer's laboratory is investigating the association between hormonal responses from adipose tissue and outcomes in acute lung injury. It is now increasingly apparent that adipose tissue is not just a storage depot for fuel but an important endocrine organ that secretes a multitude of hormones called adipokines. These adipokines act on virtually all tissues, including lung, and serve to regulate diverse biological processes involved in immune, metabolic and vascular regulation. Recent work from Dr Summer's laboratory has identified a relationship between plasma levels of the adipokine adiponectin and outcomes in patients with respiratory failure from diverse etiologies. In ongoing investigations, his laboratory will investigate whether a similar association exists in patients with respiratory failure from acute lung injury. Adiponectin oligomeric fractions will be measured in plasma samples obtained from patients participating in the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute ARDS Network Fluid and Catheter Treatment Trial (FACTT). The goal of this study is determine whether measuring adiponectin oligomers is useful for predicting outcomes in patients with acute lung injury
Another major focus of Dr Summer's laboratory is on intermediary metabolism in the lung and understanding how alterations in local metabolic activity contribute to the progression of lung diseases. Our current hypothesis is that metabolic stress resulting from lung injury drives the inflammatory and the reparative responses seen in many pathological lung conditions (e.g. idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, sarcoidosis, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, acute lung injury). The goal of these studies is to identify novel therapeutic targets of metabolic pathways that can be used for treating lung diseases.