Respiratory Research

Respiratory Research

Aim and Expertise

Respiratory research at Nottingham is aimed at understanding major lung conditions, e.g. asthma, and other health problems to improve patient healthcare.

Clinical Sciences Building

Research issues

Lung conditions affect at least 1 in 5 people and are among the third most commonly reported illnesses in the UK with millions at risk. Lung conditions can be difficult to treat and have a huge impact on peoples quality of life.

We have research programmes in obstructive lung diseases (Asthma/Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)), fibrotic lung diseases (Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF), Lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM) and infective lung diseases (cystic fibrosis, pneumonia).

Our research encompasses genetics, molecular pathophysiology, translational research (including biomarkers and imaging) and clinical trials. Follow links for more information on clinical trials and translational imaging.

What we are doing in...

Laboratory-based research

1. Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Estimates suggest that 100-150 million people worldwide have asthma. In the UK the prevalence of asthma is particularly high, a recent report showed that in Scotland more than 18% of people experienced asthma symptoms and in England and Wales similar figures were reported, 17% and 15.3% respectively (Global Initiative for Asthma 2004).

COPD is a composite term encompassing several diseases including chronic bronchitis and emphysema. COPD is the fourth most common cause of death worldwide (WHO 2004). Asthma and COPD are complex disease involving both genetic and environmental factors resulting in disease expression.

Learn more about our ongoing research in asthma and COPD.


2. Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF)

Interstitial lung disease, particularly Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis is a major cts on these research theme for the Division with a bench to bedside approach. Current projects include two large patient cohorts examining epidemiology ( Professor Richard Hubbard), prognostic biomarkers, genetics and other clinical outcomes ( Dr Gisli Jenkins, Professor Linhua Pang). A strong laboratory research theme has a focus on integrin signalling, TGFb activation and extra-cellular matrix stability ( Professor Simon Johnson).

Interstitial lung disease research is closely allied to clinical interstitial lung disease service at Nottingham University Hospitals. Funding for this work has come from the MRC, BBSRC, British Lung Foundation and industry. The Division of Respiratory Medicine has active collaborations in fibrosis as part of the Creative Research in Fibrosis Therapy consortium (CRAFT) with Glaxo-Smith-Kline and further research support from Novartis.


3. Lung infection including Cystic Fibrosis (CF)

Lung infection particularly associated with chronic lung diseases such as cystic fibrosis is an important area of our research. These studies have been carried out collaboration with Paul Williams and Miguel Camara in molecular microbiology, Professor Alan Smyth in Paediatrics and Professor Andrew Fogarty in Epidemiology.

We have a particular interest in how bacterial quorum sensing molecules produced by gram negative organisms in the lung can be used as biomarkers of lung infection and a potential therapeutic target. We have also carried out explorative clinical trials of new agents (eg garlic, glutamine) and large RCTs (eg TOPIC study of once daily tobramycin). These studies have been funded by MRC, Wellcome, CF Trust and USCFF. Wei Shen Lim is interested in studies of pneumonia and influenza infection (funded by NIHR and industry).


4. Lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM)

Lymphangioleiomyomatosis is a rare disease of the lungs and lymphatics which leads to respiratory failure. The Division of Respiratory Medicine has both laboratory and clinical research interests in the disease, and leads on the development of clinical guidelines for LAM and related disorders ( Professor Simon Johnson). Laboratory studies focus on understanding the mechanisms of protease mediated lung destruction.

Clinical LAM research has themes in clinical trials, biomarkers and clinical management and is closely allied to the National Centre for Lymphangioleiomyomatosis, a UK clinical referral service for patients with LAM funded by highly specialised commissioning for NHS England.

The group also work closely with LAM Action, the National patient charity, and their research is funded by the British Lung Foundation, LAM Action, the University of Nottingham and Nottingham University Special Trustees.


5. Translational Imaging

Clinical research

We have expertise in running major clinical studies on the above diseases led by our Nottingham Respiratory Research Unit based at the Nottingham Hospital City site. Visit the NRRU.

PhD opportunities

Dr Shahideh Safavi talks about her PhD studies in Translational Imaging

Find out more about postgraduate research at the School of Medicine.



Our research is published in leading peer-reviewed journals including general journals such as Lancet, New England Journal of Medicine, Nature Genetics, J Clin Invest, J  Immunol, FASEB J and J Biol Chem and leading speciality journals such as Lancet Resp Med, Am J Respir Crit Care Med, J Allergy Clin Immunol, Thorax, Am J Physiol, and others.

Please see individual members' profiles for more publication details.

Clinical service

Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD)

Severe Asthma Service

The National Centre for Lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM)

Improving patient care

The Nottingham Respiratory Research Unit (NRRU) is a partnership between the Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust and the University of Nottingham. The NRRU takes medical research out of laboratories and brings it back into community practice (within the NHS). The ultimate goal is to improve patient care.




Division of Respiratory Medicine, The School of Medicine

The University of Nottingham
Clinical Sciences Building
Nottingham City Hospital
Hucknall Road
Nottingham, NG7 2UH

telephone: +44 (0) 115 82 31317