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Airways Inflammation Group (AIRG)

The Airways Inflammation Group at the University of Calgary in the Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases is involved in numerous research areas targeting aspects of Asthma and COPD for which current therapies are less than ideal. The group is well positioned to study these complex diseases from a number of different perspectives, including studies of inflammatory mechanisms, surfactant function, airway remodeling, and epithelial cell biology, and can test pharmacological interventions in both pre-clinical and clinical settings. This research has been facilitated by the recent opening of a new ~1500 square foot "state-of-the-art" dedicated clinical research suite that is unique in Canada. The group is made up of basic and clinician scientists who are well published and recognized worldwide in their areas of expertise. The collaborative atmosphere within the group promotes a team effort to elucidating the underlying mechanisms of these diseases and finding better therapeutics for combating these ailments.

Airways Inflammation Models

The research group has the capacity to conduct studies at all levels from cell cultures to clinical trials.

Model systems include:

A) In Vitro Models: Cultures and Co-Cultures

  • Cell lines: A variety of human bronchial and alveolar epithelial cell lines are available including: BEAS-2B, 16-HBE, HBE-1 and A549.
  • Primary cultures (from normal human lungs): 
    • Epithelium: can be grown in submersion culture or at air-liquid interface
    • Fibroblasts
    • Smooth muscle cells (SMCs)

Have initiated co-culture models for epithelial-fibroblast or epithelial-SMC interactions.

Group members also have experience with a variety of other cell types, including macrophages, dendritic cells, neutrophils, eosinophils and mast cells.

B) Animal Models

  • Mouse models of: Allergen challenge (Both Ovalbumin & House Dust Mite models)
  • SR antigen model of hypersensitivity pneumonitis (Farmer's lung). Have expertise in fibrosis in this model.
  • Acute Lung Injury
  • Also have a rat model of: Ovalbumin challenge

C) Human Studies

There are full facilities for nasal and pulmonary provocation studies, bronchoscopy (lavage/brushing/biopsy), sputum induction, pulmonary function (spirometry & plethysmography), exhaled nitric oxide measurements and exercise testing.

Capacities include:

  • Allergen challenge - lung/nose
  • Exercise
  • Experimental rhinovirus infections (soon)
  • Studies in asthmatics and patients with COPD
  • Interventional bronchoscopy

Members of AIRG

  • David Proud (Group Chair) 
    Epithelial cell biology, viral exacerbations of asthma and COPD, interactions of viruses and cigarette smoke.
  • Richard Leigh 
    Mechanisms of airway remodeling, clinical studies in asthma and COPD.
  • Margaret Kelly  
    Mechanisms of remodeling and pulmonary fibrosis. Lung pathology.
  • Bob Cowie 
    Clinical studies in asthma and COPD.
  • Stephen Field 
    Clinical studies in asthma and COPD.
  • Mark Giembycz  
    Pulmonary pharmacology, cyclic nucleotide signaling, actions of b-adrenergic agonists, phosphosdiesterase inhibitors, glucocorticoids.
  • Robert Newton 
    Molecular biology, mechanisms of glucocorticoid action, mechanisms of glucorticoid/LABA synergy.
  • Francis Green  
    Pathology of asthma, animal models of asthma, surfactant function.
  • Matthias Amrein  
    Surfactant structure and function, electron/atomic force microscopy.
  • Brent Winston 
    Acute lung injury, critical care medicine.
  • Alain Tremblay 
    Interventional bronchoscopy
  • Alex Chee 
    Interventional Pulmonary Medicine


Dr. David Proud (Group's Chair)
Tel: (403) 210-3816
Fax: (403) 270-0692

Airway Inflammation Group Website

The Calvin, Phoebe and Joan Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases was named in 2008 in honour of Joan Snyder and her parents, who she credits for teaching her the value of philanthropy. It is a group of more than 104 clinicians, clinician-scientists and basic scientists who are impacting and changing the lives of people suffering from chronic diseases, including sepsis, MRSA, cystic fibrosis, type-1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. For more information on the Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases, please visit us at or follow us on Twitter @SnyderInstitute.