MD/PhD Monthly Meeting

Feb 19 2018 - 12:00pm
Event Category: 

Chris Waters, PhD
Physiology / CVRC

Bio / Education:

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, B.S.E. (Chemical Engineering), 1985 (Summa Cum Laude)
University of Miami, M.S. (Biomedical Engineering), 1987
Vanderbilt University, Ph.D. (Biomedical Engineering, 1991
Vanderbilt University, Postdoc, 1992

The Waters lab focuses on mechanobiology and acute lung injury. Patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) are placed on mechanical ventilators to improve oxygenation, but the ventilator may cause additional injury to the lungs due to either overdistention or airway collapse and reopening. Clinical trials have demonstrated a substantial reduction in mortality in ARDS patients when ventilation strategies are used that reduce overdistention (lower tidal volumes) and minimize airway collapse and reopening (positive end expiratory pressure). The lung is a mechanically dynamic organ, and cells in the lung are subjected to shear stress due to fluid flow, tensile and compressive forces due to respiratory motion, and normal forces due to vascular or airway pressure. High tidal volume mechanical ventilation in injured lungs induces mechanical stresses that increase injury to the lung epithelium, stimulate inflammatory responses, and decrease repair mechanisms. We are focusing on the mechanisms by which mechanical forces contribute to lung injury, inhibit wound healing of lung epithelial cells, and stimulate inflammation. We are examining signaling pathways related to injury and repair (CXCL12/CXCR4, ASK1, FAK, Rho GTPases), cell migration and wound healing, inflammasome activation, cytoskeletal remodeling, stimulation of reactive oxygen species, cytokine secretion, and regional variations in cellular tension. In addition we are examining lung injury in vivo and the effects of exposure to high levels of oxygen (hyperoxia). My research seeks to identify the levels of mechanical forces and the types of lung injury that cells experience in vivo, to develop in vitro models to evaluate cellular responses, to identify mechanisms by which mechanical forces are transduced into biological signals, and to develop approaches to reduce lung injury.