History and Scientific Focus

Dartmouth has developed a collaborative, multi-disciplinary research program focused on the airway epithelium and lung infection. Our labs pursue a range of topics including CFTR intracellular trafficking and regulation, airway bacterial colonization, biofilm formation, microbial signaling and adaptation, and therapeutic strategies, including development of new modulator and antimicrobial lead compounds.

Our group has evolved over the last 20 years from a handful of faculty. In 1997 Dartmouth held a single NIH research-project award related to cystic fibrosis (R01DK045881 to Dr. Bruce Stanton). However, in the late 1990s the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation awarded Dr. Stanton a Research Development Program (RDP), intrigued by a nucleus of faculty working in infectious disease (e.g., Host- Microbe Interactions T32AI007519) and epithelial biology (e.g., Renal, later Epithelial, Biology Training Grant T32DK007301), and by the comparative outcomes approaches of emeritus Professor Dr. Gerald O’Connor at The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice. Pilot project funds from the RDP, access to reagents and expertise through the associated Core facilities, and the development of a dynamic research community through weekly seminars and a growing set of collaborations, all supported research transitions into CF-relevant areas for a group of faculty, including Drs. Madden and O’Toole. Together this group formed the nucleus of an NIH Institutional Development Award (IDeA) Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) grant that established a Lung Biology Center at Dartmouth in 2003 which focused on CF-related lung disease, as a majority of patients succumb to respiratory failure resulting from the chronic infection and inflammation that results from CFTR dysfunction. Support coming largely through the Lung Biology COBRE and CFF RDP drove the steady expansion of our CF research group and the development of our current themes:

  • CFTR trafficking in airway epithelial cells
  • Biofilm formation in the lung
  • Microbe-microbe cross-talk
  • Microbial pathogenesis in chronic lung infections