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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) and that commons drugs such as metformin can protect against the pulmonary damage observed in COPD (AJRCCM 2021). In the last few years, Dr. Polverino laboratory has pioneered the use of digital spatial profiling for the study of lung pathologies (Cells 2022, Sci Rep 2023). 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, the European Respiratory Society COPD GOLD medal (2022), and the Parker B Francis award by the American Thoracic Society (2023). 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.

In 2023, she became the ATS RCMB program committee chair and standing member of the NIH Lung Injury, Repair, and Remodeling (LIRR) Study Section.

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