Recently Recruited Department Heads
Spearhead Translational Research Initiatives


Patricia W. Finn: Breathing Easier

Department of medicine head Patricia W. Finn, MD, is excited that the College of Medicine has taken such a proactive stance in encouraging translational research. “The basic scientist working on the bench has a lot to offer the clinician,” she says. “It’s possible that those analyses and discoveries can lead to a better treatment, or at the very least a better understanding [of disease].”

With a clinical and research focus on immune mediated pulmonary diseases, including transplantation, lung injury and asthma, Finn sees her work drawing from these connections in a number of ways. In treating asthma, for example, translational research can lead to not only new drug discovery but also greater analyses of immune system responses that trigger attacks. “It requires a discussion about, ‘How do you avoid those triggers?’ ” she says.

As the most common cause for mortality among those admitted to an intensive care unit, lung injury is ripe for exploration through translational research, says Finn, an NIH-funded researcher who is also Earl M. Bane Professor of Medicine. “Who goes on to have lung injury? Why does that happen?” she says. “These are questions that are incredibly exciting and have to do with how you identify the data and intervene.”

Transplantation is another area where translational research could provide answers, Finn believes. “Why do certain populations have better outcomes? Is it due to immune response, related to the microbes that live on you?” she asks. “There are so many unanswered questions and so many ways to analyze the data.”