RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute announced that the Duke Clinical Research Institute (DCRI), in conjunction with RTI International, will serve as data coordinating center for the Molecular Atlas of Lung Development Program (LungMAP). The program will use state-of-the-art molecular and imaging technologies to map the developing human lung.
"Respiratory disease is the third leading cause of death in the United States, but efforts to find better treatments for this ailment have been hindered by researchers' limited understanding of how the lung develops, particularly during the period between infancy and early childhood when lung cells undergo terminal differentiation and maturation," said Scott Palmer, MD, MHS, the director of the DCRI's pulmonary research program and DCRI principal investigator of the LungMAP data coordinating center. "This knowledge gap persists in part because of researchers' limited access to healthy lung tissue. By mapping the development of the lung, we will be able to provide a better understanding of the molecular pathways that regulate normal lung development in order to improve lung injury repair and regeneration and ultimately improve treatment."
The LungMAP data coordinating center will develop the database and the tools necessary to support advanced investigations into the processes that regulate lung development. The data will be generated from four collaborative LungMAP Research Centers (Children's Hospital Los Angeles, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory) and a LungMAP Human Tissue Center (University of Rochester).
"This highly innovative consortium will link together data from a diverse group of research centers to promote the overall goal of increasing our understanding of lung development," Palmer said. "Insights from this project should translate into improved understanding of human lung disease and could point toward potential novel treatments."
The overall goal of this program is to build a web-based reference resource by developing a comprehensive molecular atlas of the late-stage developing lung. The atlas will integrate gene and protein expression profiles and other molecular characterizations with high-resolution anatomical information to provide molecular profiles of defined cell types in the developing lung.
The data coordinating center will make this knowledge accessible and freely available to the public and research community through novel imaging and bioinformatic web-based tools.
"To build this web-based resource for the lung research community, RTI is capitalizing on its strengths in bioinformatics, omics technology, and data coordination, which complements the Duke Clinical Research Institute's strengths in clinical research and outcomes analysis," said Robert Clark, Ph.D., senior research biologist and the RTI principal investigator of the LungMAP data coordinating center. "Our partnership could be a model for future endeavors."