Comprendre et cibler les endotypes de la maladie pulmonaire obstructive chronique pour améliorer la santé pulmonaire à vie


Benjamin Smith

Institut de recherche du Centre universitaire de santé McGill


Domaine : santé circulatoire et respiratoire

Programme Chercheurs-boursiers cliniciens - Junior 2

Concours 2019-2020

My research program aims to reduce the patient and population burden of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD is a major health problem globally, and in Québec. It is currently the third leading cause of death, and the only leading cause of death that continues to rise. My research uses state-of-the-art imaging the answer the following questions:

  1. Why do some people develop COPD and others do not? Smoking is the best-known risk factor for COPD, but despite 5 decades of falling smoking rates, the burden of COPD has not declined. Understanding what determines risk of COPD and progression beyond smoking is urgently needed.
  2. Is there something wrong with the breathing muscle (diaphragm) that makes people with COPD breathless? People with COPD taking optimum treatment often remain breathless. The diaphragm is the main muscle of breathing, and abnormal function may be something we can improve to reduce breathlessness in COPD.
  3. Is the increased effort that is needed to breathe in COPD damaging to the heart? Heart disease is the leading cause of death for most people with COPD. The heart is exposed to breathing forces, which are increased in COPD. Reducing these breathing forces may reduce the stress on the heart, and improve heart outcomes in COPD.

To answer these questions, I combine imaging data from large cohorts (many thousands of people), with smaller studies of people with more detailed measurements, and with animal models of COPD. This translational approach allows me to identify and understand disease mechanisms that can be targeted to reduce the patient and population health burden of COPD.