Dr. Reen Wu

Professor Reen Wu of UC Davis is an internationally recognized lung biologist, and has made numerous contributions to the basic lung biological research as well as translational sciences. The notable recognition of his accomplishments is the American Thoracic Society Recognition Award for Scientific Accomplishment in 2011. He has been continuously funded by NIH research grants for almost 30 years, and has won merit awards. He has also served in a number of NIH standing study sections including LCMI and a variety of special emphasis panels. He has published more than 100 papers in high quality journals including J Clin Invest. He has also trained many graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, who have gone into academia and made their own names. Thus, I nominate Dr. Reen Wu to be the first honorary member of the Chinese-American Lung Association. The following is a brief summary of Dr. Wu’s scientific accomplishments.

Dr. Wu’s laboratory is one of the laboratories that have developed a serum-free hormone supplemented medium for culturing primary airway epithelial cells from various animal species and human. Utilizing the defined culture system, in 1983 and 1985, he was the first group to demonstrate new ciliogenesis and mucous cell differentiation in primary hamster tracheal epithelial cultures. In 1985, he has developed the “Whitcutt” chambers to be used for airway epithelial cells cultured under air-liquid interface (ALI) condition. In 1986, he was able to achieve the first pseudostratified mucociliary epithelial layer in this chamber. These successes lead to the current ALI protocol to mimic the in vivo biology of airway epithelial cells for in vitro studies in various laboratories. Since then, he has utilized both the in vitro and in vivo approaches to delineate the functional role of airway epithelial cells in response to various cytokines/mediators, environmental insults, and infections. He has used differential and subtractive hybridization approaches to identify differential gene expression associated with epithelial cell differentiation and cell injury. In 1995-1996, he has introduced the first microarray study for profiling gene expression in response to vitamin A and smoke exposure. These studies lead to the discovery of various novel genes associated with airway epithelium. These include small proline-rich protein genes, SPURT (PLUNC), retinol dehydrogenase. In 2003, he discovered the significant role of IL-17 in the stimulation of airway mucin gene expression. This finding has led to the finding that IL-17 is the most potent inducer for various epithelial host defense molecules in addition to the pro-inflammatory effects. In addition, the use of ALI cultures allows us to expose cells under the physiological condition to smoke exposure. Further studies with clinical tissues from cancer patients enable us to characterize differential expression and the significance of the interaction of these differential genes. Recent work has observed the persistence of cell differentiation, especially mucin gene expression, associated with smoke and vitamin A treatments. Because of these activities, there is a need to carry out further study at the global, genome-wide level, especially in relating to the persistent changes in gene expression. Because of these current interests, his lab is actively engaged in RNA-seq and MIRA-seq analyses and studies at UC Davis Medical Center.

Dr. Wu has been well funded by the NIH since 1984. His research projects are always multidisciplinary and mechanistic-drive ones. He has been recognized for his work with a NIH merit award in 1995 and a Recognition Award for Scientific Accomplishment by American Thoracic Society in 2011. In addition, Dr. Wu has served as a regular member on several NIH study sections, including the genome-wide microarray, epigenetic mechanism-related study sections, Lung Biology and Pathology (LBPA) study sections in the past, and more recently, LCMI and NHLBI Institutional Training Mechanism (NITM) Review Panel.

Nominated by Min Wu, MD, PhD, March 30, 2013.

Supported by Hongwei Chu, MD, March 31, 2013 & Yunchao Su, MD, Ph.D., April 2, 2013.

Chinese-American Lung Association