Joseph Zabner M.D.
Professor, Carver College of Medicine
Dr. Joseph Zabner is Director of the Division of Pulmonary, Vice Chair for Translational Research and Professor of Internal Medicine of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Occupational Medicine at the University of Iowa Carver School of Medicine. Dr. Zabner's research focus is on the antibacterial innate immunity in the airway epithelia, in particular how does the lack of a bicarbonate channel 'CFTR' results in lung infections. Dr. Zabner's research can be divided into 4 main areas. First, to investigate the antimicrobial properties of the airway surface liquid and how they affect bacterial colonization in cystic fibrosis. His laboratory investigates these questions using primary cultures of human airway epithelia at the air liquid interface, animal modes including mice and pigs with deletion of the CFTR gene, and humans with cystic fibrosis. They are currently studying the effect of inhaled buffers to enhance airway innate immunity. Second, Dr. Zabner investigates the development of vectors for gene therapy in cystic fibrosis. Currently they have been using 'directed evolution' to select adeno-associated viruses that efficiently target the airway epithelia of humans and pigs. The porcine model of cystic Fibrosis will allow them to ask the question if 'gene transfer' can result in 'gen therapy'. Third, his laboratory also investigates how the receptor for adenovirus regulates epithelial functions as well as pathogenesis of adenovirus airway infection. Finally, they have been investigating the effect of an endogenous lactonase 'paraoxonase' that can degrade quorum-sensing molecules used by Pseudomonas Aeruginosa. This family of proteins is ubiquitously expressed in the airways and may represent a novel form of innate immunity against quorum-sensing bacteria.