air pollution, respirology, public health, occupational lung disease, gene-environment interactions, epigenetics
My scholarly activity focuses on how particulate and gaseous pollutants affect the lungs. A particular focus is on understanding how multiple such pollutants and allergens interact in causing physiologic changes. To address these concerns, I have led the establishment of a globally-unique research facility, the Air Pollution Exposure Laboratory, with the assistance of UBC and several granting agencies. This facility is state-of-the-art in its ability to expose human subjects to multiple pollutants (predominantly diesel exhaust) at precise and well-characterized concentrations, and is integrated with out “we” laboratory in which the biological specimens obtained from these controlled exposures are analyzed by a number of advanced techniques. Our protocols, featuring a powerful randomized crossover design, are approved by the UBC human ethics committee and have demonstrated safety over nearly 15 years of experience. Related research efforts include the assessment of immunological effects of inhaled phthalates, understanding of western red cedar asthma (especially factors that predict recovery after removal from the workplace), epidemiologic study of air pollution (indoor and outdoor) and incident asthma in children, and gene-environment interactions (including epigenetics) related to all of the above.