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Biochemistry | Genomics | Molecular Biology | Pediatrics | Systems Biology


The newborn lung undergoes vast biochemical and physiological changes during adaptation from the intrauterine to the extrauterine environment. Lung morphogenesis continues from birth into early childhood, mediated by dynamic gene expression and a diversity of pulmonary cell types that exhibit remarkable heterogeneity. (Whitsett, JA. et al. Physiol. Rev, 2019). Surprisingly, few studies have solely focused on human lung development during this critical period, and many current studies of lung maturation rely on adult, murine, or diseased samples, limiting their insights and applicability to longitudinal pediatric lung development. Understanding the molecular and physiological nuances of pulmonary development has important clinical relevance, as incomplete lung maturation in premature infants can lead to bronchopulmonary dysplasia or other malignancies that impair lung function during infancy and beyond. Molecular profiles of heterogenous pulmonary cell populations, knowledge of three-dimensional cellular structures of airways and alveoli, and an open-access database to integrate multiplatform datasets are needed to provide the foundation for future research informing mechanisms and treatments of childhood lung diseases (Pryhuber, et. al. Am. J. Physiol. Lung Cell Mol. Physiol, 2017).

In this Thursday Forum, I introduce the groundbreaking work conducted by the Molecular Atlas of Lung Development Program (LungMAP), a consortium of pediatric research centers aiming to create a molecular “map” of the pediatric lung. Additionally, I explore the future of a systems biology approach to medical research, integrating my own experience during Summer 2019 at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, New York conducting genomics pediatric research.