Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine
Research in the Desai Lab

My lab focuses on the gas exchange (alveolar) region of the lung. We are interested in understanding how this geometrically beautiful collection of delicate air sacs forms and is maintained throughout the lifespan. By identifying the diverse cell classes that populate alveoli and mapping their behaviors and interactions in mice during aging and after injury, we can begin to dissect the molecular signals that regulate their activity. In parallel, we are characterizing the cellular and molecular perturbations in human tissue specimens with alveolar diseases like lung adenocarcinoma, emphysema, and pulmonary fibrosis. Our expectation is that by elucidating the precise cellular and molecular mechanisms that maintain alveolar structure and function, then examining which of these are perturbed in human diseases, we will generate testable models for how dysregulation of specific programs causes or contributes to alveolar pathology. Once the underlying pathogenesis of a particular alveolar disease has been determined, rational therapies can be devised that specifically target the involved cells and pathways. In this way, we may not only develop new treatments for largely untreatable lung diseases, but minimize the off-target toxicities that accompany the use of less selective drugs and chemotherapies.


Recent Publications

Desai TJ, Krasnow MA. (2013) Stem Cells: Differentiated cells in a back-up role.  Nature 503(7475):204-5.

Desai TJ, Brownfield D, Krasnow MA. (2014) Alveolar progenitors and stem cells in lung development, renewal and cancer.  Nature 507(7491):190-4. 

Treutlein B, Brownfield D, Wu AR, Neff NF, Mantalas GL, Desai TJ, Krasnow MA, Quake SR. (2014) Reconstructing lineage hierarchies of the distal lung epithelium using single cell RNA-seq.  Nature 509(7500): 371-5.

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