Amy Ryan Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Amy Ryan (Firth) is currently an independent tenure-track Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Southern California (USC) with a primary appointment in the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, Department of Medicine and a secondary appointment in the Department of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine. She received both her M.Sc. in Pharmacology and Ph.D. in Pulmonary Physiology and Ion Channel Regulation at the University of Bath, UK. For two years, she was a Postdoctoral Fellow at UC San Diego where she studied pathogenic mechanisms contributing to Pulmonary Hypertension. For this work she was runner-up in the American Heart Association's Cournand and Comroe Young Investigator Award. This was followed by a Postdoctoral Research Associate position in Professor Inder Verma's laboratory at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, CA. With support from a CIRM Postdoctoral Fellowship, Dr. Firth focused her research on the development and study of induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-based disease models of human lung disease. To this end, she pioneered approaches for the robust differentiation to mature respiratory epithelium. Her study showing the development of multiciliated respiratory epithelium from iPSC, published in PNAS (2014), enables the improved and unprecedented study of pulmonary ciliopathies in a human iPSC-based system. In addition, utilizing state of the art gene editing technologies she corrected a disease causing mutation in iPSC she generated from somatic cells of patients with cystic fibrosis and was able to show functional recovery in differentiated epithelial cells; this work was published in Cell Reports (2015). During her time at Salk, Amy was awarded the Caroline tum Suden/Francis A. Hellebrandt Professional Opportunity Award from the American Physiology Society. She currently has 38 peer-reviewed original research papers, 26 reviews/editorials/book chapters and was chief editor of a book entitled 'Lung Stem Cells' published by Springer in July 2015. In 2016, Amy accepted her position at USC. She has now established her laboratory to focus on utilizing patient-derived iPSC and state-of-the-art gene editing technologies, such as CRISPR, to a) model and study mechanisms of lung disease development and b) investigate approaches for tissue regeneration and stem cell-mediated repair of the airway epithelium. Since forming her own lab she has been a highly sought after speaker both nationally and internationally. Her achievements have also been recognized through selection as one of three finalists for the Professional Achievement Award in the United States for the British Council Education UK Alumni Awards 2017 and she was awarded the Assembly on Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology's Carol Basbaum Award for recognition of outstanding scientific achievement and leadership potential.