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Francesca Polverino, MD, PhD, is Lester and Sue Professor, and Associate Professor of Medicine, tenured, at the Baylor College of Medicine – Houston. Her clinical and research interest is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In 2010, after completing her medical degree and doctorate, she moved to Harvard University where she studied the pathobiology and the systemic manifestations of COPD with the mentorship of Prof. Bartolome Celli. Dr. Polverino published seminal papers focused on the mechanisms leading to the onset and progression of COPD. She discovered that the B cell Activating Factor, a key molecule involved in autoimmunity, is overexpressed in COPD patients' lungs and contributes to the formation of lymphoid follicles (AJRCCM 2010, 2015, and 2019). She has also identified two molecules which are expressed in the lung and are protective against cigarette smoke-induced lung damage and COPD: Club Cell Protein 16 (CC16, European Respiratory Journal 2015), and A-Disintegrin and A Metalloproteinase Domain 8 (AJRCCM 2018), and has described the first non-human primate model of COPD (American Journal of Pathology 2015). From a clinical standpoint, Dr. Polverino reported for the first time that patients with COPD also suffer extensive kidney damage (AJRCCM 2017). Dr. Polverino’s research interest is also focused on the understanding of pre- and peri-natal factors that determine lung function limitation early in life (early COPD). In 2017, Dr. Polverino became an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, to then join the faculty at University of Arizona in August 2018, where she set up and leads the COPD translational research group. She has been awarded several prestigious international recognitions, including the Parker B. Francis Fellowship (2016), the Rising Star of Research Award from the American Thoracic Society (2018), and the Medal of Honor for Scientific Merits from the President of Italian Republic. In January 2021, she has been recruited to the Baylor College of Medicine to lead an effort aimed at expanding the COPD translational research program within the college.



Identifying the key molecular and cellular culprits in the pathogenesis of COPD

Ph.D. (Pulmonary)

University of Parma

Parma, Italy, 2017

Characterizing the adaptive immune mechanisms underlying pulmonary emphysema


Seconda Universita di Napoli

Napels, Italy, 2006

Identifying the genetic and genomic factors which determine the individual susceptibility to develop early chronic airflow limitation (early COPD)

Correlating cellular and molecular readouts with COPD clinical phenotypes and imaging (lung MRI and CT scan)


Medal from the Presidency of Italian Republic for scientific accomplishment, 2019

Parker B. Francis Fellowship, Francis Family Foundation, 2016

Outstanding Italian Investigator Award, AIMAR (Associazione Italiana Malattie Respiratorie/ Interdisciplinary Association for Research in Lung Disease) – Lung Conference on Respiratory Diseases, 2014

Lung Science – Travel Grant, European Respiratory Society, 2011

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Award, American College of Chest Physicians, 2010

Research Travel Award – Best Abstract, National Emphysema Foundation, American Thoracic Society, 2009 


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