Over the past decade, the Section of Emergency Medicine has become one of the premier emergency medicine research programs in the country, supporting basic, translational, and clinical research that is as varied as the specialty itself. This research, which has generated millions of dollars in grant funding, has emphasized collaboration across departments, disciplines, and institutions.

Research within the Section has focused on an extraordinarily broad range of issues, including: ischemia/reperfusion injury and resuscitation in cell and animal models; therapeutic hypothermia; oxygen sensing and the physiology of chronic intermittent hypoxia, CPR performance and outcomes; public access defibrillation; computer-assisted health screening and health promotion; intimate partner violence; emergency department overcrowding; access to care for uninsured and under-insured patients; using EMS personnel to promote public health; emergency care of the elderly; global health, toxicology, asthma care (via several multi-institutional collaborative arrangements); patient/physician communication; patient privacy; aeromedical safety; and bioterrorism preparedness.

The Center for Systems Biology of Oxygen Sensing

The Center for Systems Biology of Oxygen Sensing was established in January 2007 under the direction of Dr. Nanduri Prabhakar, a world expert on oxygen sensing and the physiology of chronic intermittent hypoxia (CIH). Dr. Prabhakar and his colleagues are interested in assessing the effects of CIH at systemic, cellular and molecular levels and in identifying the mechanisms underpinning the CIH-induced morbidities. Recent discoveries demonstrated the mechanisms by which oxidative stress stimulates brain-derived neurotrophic factor and showed how CIH facilitates oxygen sensing in the carotid body by mechanisms involving increased generation of reactive oxygen species in the chemoreceptor tissue. They have also revealed that CIH induces hypoxic sensing in the adult adrenal medulla and that hypoxia-evoked catecholamine efflux from the adrenal medulla may contribute to elevated plasma catecholamine levels and hypertension. Additional findings provided insights into the role of hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) in eliciting carotid body-mediated cardiorespiratory responses to CIH and how the effects of CIH involve complex interactions between HIF-1 and reactive oxygen species.

The research of the Center’s faculty members focuses on examining the systemic and cellular responses to hypoxia. Dr. Prabhakar and his team are investigating: a) the effects of chronic intermittent and continuous hypoxia on cardio-respiratory changes, b) mechanisms of O2 sensing by the carotid body, and c) role and mechanisms of HIF-1 transcription factor activation by intermittent hypoxia. Dr. Kumar’s laboratory is assessing the impact of intermittent hypoxia on neurotransmitter metabolism in central and peripheral nervous system. Dr. J. Nanduri’s laboratory is examining the impact of intermittent and continuous hypoxia: a) on hERG K+ channel trafficking and b) regulation of HIF-2 transcription factor. Dr. Peng is assessing the re-modeling of carotid body function by oxidative stress.

For more information about the Center for Systems Biology of Oxygen Sensing, click here