Basic & Translational Research

We aim to foster the growth of an internationally-recognized interdisciplinary CF basic and translational research program that leads to new breakthroughs which will advance a deeper understanding of CF disease and thus identify completely new areas for clinical intervention.

Our team of CF scientists and clinician-scientists will study the complex environment of the CF lung by considering each component as a member of a community, and applying the scientific principles of both systems biology and community ecology. The scientific theme for our CF Basic & Translational Research Program, therefore, is “The Systems Ecology of the CF Lung”. We will use a variety of approaches to characterize the changes in activities of each of the cell types that make up the community and in the signals by which they communicate, to identify those changes that are associated with progressive lung disease. We will apply systems biology approaches and computational modeling to understand how these components of the community interact. These approaches will identify new therapeutic routes. We will also design devices that monitor the airways of CF patients for those changes, which will allow CF clinicians to recognize the warning signs of impending pulmonary decline in order to initiate aggressive treatment. We will identify and develop new drugs to manipulate a variety of therapeutic targets in the various components of the airway ecosystem. To this end, we are building a coalition of scientists, clinician-scientists, and engineers who bring new interdisciplinary approaches to the study of the complex environment of the CF lung.

We believe that focusing on the complex environment of the CF lung will lead to new approaches to increase life-expectancy and enhance quality of life in children and adults with this disease.

Although substantial improvements in quality and longevity of life for CF patients have been achieved since the disease was first described, the median predicted age at death remains less than half of that for the non-CF population. What will it take to solve this problem? We need to find new ways to think about CF, new ways to focus on wellness, to turn this “disease” into a “condition”. We will translate breakthroughs in our basic understanding of CF to enable prospective, predictive, personalized, and preventive healthcare for CF, not simply disease care. Our ambitious goal is that ten years from now, we will not have one more child with CF die from this disease

Our team aims to promote interdisciplinary research into the pathogenesis of CF and to translate this new knowledge into therapeutic strategies for this life-shortening disease. The overall strategy to reach this goal centers upon the >600 CF patients cared for within our clinical program. Center investigators will use state-of-the-art approaches to study patient-derived samples, along with novel animal models of CF and CFRD, to identify the changes in airway function with respect to inflammation and redox imbalance that accompany development of CF or CFRD, use experimental systems to test mechanistic hypotheses, and use systems modeling approaches to integrate these results in the context of patient data on disease progression.

The CF research program has grown from a very small start – only three investigators in 2009 – to now including over 60 investigators, spread between Emory University, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Georgia Tech, and the University of Georgia. A full list of team members is available by clicking "Meet Our Investigators" in the navigation menu to the left.

CF-AIR currently operates or support the following research cores:

  1. Biomarkers Core
  2. CF Discovery Core, including the CF Biospecimen Registry
  3. CF Animal Models Core
  4. RDP Research Training Core
  5. RDP CF Analytics Core
  6. RDP Experimental Models Core
  7. Equipment

Further descriptions of these cores, and instructions on how to access their capabilities, can be found here.

CF-AIR sponsors a Pilot Grant Program which alternates between CF-focused grants (odd years) and Asthma focused grants (even years).

The goals of the Pilot Grant Program within CF-AIR are: (a) to encourage the engagement of both established and new investigators in CF research, and (b) to ensure a pipeline of innovative research projects that will both lead to extramural funding and result in generation of new knowledge that will have positive impact on patient outcomes. The Pilot Grant Program will serve as a focal point to engage investigators that have expertise relevant to CF and CF-related diabetes, but who have not yet brought their skills into this field. It will also serve as a foundry for new ideas that are brought forward by seasoned CF investigators, who hope to test these novel concepts in experiments that take advantage of both our large patient population and the structure of the Center.

Other funding opportunities are listed under Funding Opportunties.

CF-AIR Research Workshop. Currently in this weekly workshop series, research presentations are given on topics related to CF, Asthma, and other airway diseases, by our scientists and members of their labs. Contact Nael McCarty if you are interested in joining, current schedule can be found here.

CF-TR Joint Lab Meeting. Investigators and trainees doing translational research in CF, Asthma, or other airways disease hold a joint lab meeting at noon on Tuesdays to share ideas. Contact Nael McCarty if you are interested in joining, current schedule can be found here.

CF Scholars Program. The CF Scholars Program, supported by institutional funds, recruits the brightest and best pre-doctoral and post-doctoral fellows (both PhD and MD) and educates and mentors them to become preeminent CF researchers. Further information provided here. Contact Joanna Goldberg, Director of the CF Scholars Program, if you are interested in joining.