COPD Program


The COPD Program at LRRI was initiated based on the realization that many investigators at LRRI and at the University of New Mexico (UNM) in Albuquerque have developed unique resources to address key problems related to COPD.  Combining these capabilities facilitates the interaction of all groups interested in COPD and maximizes the use of existing resources.  

This program has unique embedded features that are not present at other COPD Centers around the world due to the demographics of the population in the Southwest as well as extensive in-house expertise in environmental pollution.



LRRI’s COPD program comprises:

  • Epidemiological and genetic studies on smokers in the Albuquerque area
  • Unique animal models of COPD that closely mimic the human disease and are widely used to screen efficacy of drugs
  • Basic and translational research on emphysema and chronic bronchitis
  • Clinical trials to test efficacy of investigational drugs in patients with COPD

The Lovelace Smokers Cohort (LSC) more information

This ongoing study enrolls and follows current and former smokers in Albuquerque and the surrounding communities.

  • Unique characteristics of this cohort
  • Smokers with and without COPD are followed from young age before they go to the clinic for COPD treatment
  • A large number of Hispanics and non-Hispanic white participants are enrolled. Several studies on the effect of smoking on Hispanic health are ongoing
  • A large database has been generated
  • Smoking history, pulmonary function, history of respiratory diseases, history of drug use, and history of nutrition
  • Longitudinal data on the participants over >10 years.
Animal Models of COPD more information
Various animal models that mimic human COPD have been established to study and test drugs:
  • Animal models of inflammation
  1. Induced by LPS (aerosolized or instilled) and various drug controls (in mice, rats, and non-human primates)
    1. Induced by cigarette smoke exposure (in mice, rats, and non-human primates)
    2. Exposure to cigarette smoke and exposed to wood smoke
  1. Animal models of chronic bronchitis
    1. Exposure to LPS (in mice, rats, and non-human primates)
    2. Exposure to cigarette smoke (in genetically modified mice engineered to have susceptibility genes found in humans with chronic bronchitis)
    3. Exposure to cigarette smoke (rats and non-human primates)
  2. Animal models of emphysema and exacerbation
    1. Exposure to elastase
    2. Exposure to cigarette smoke
    3. Exposure to cigarette smoke and infected with influenza virus
    4. Exposure to cigarette smoke and a virus surrogate

Several drugs affecting various pathways are being tested in these models for their efficacy in reducing inflammation, chronic bronchitis or emphysema.

LRRI has strong track record of generating aerosols of any type of compounds to deliver the drugs directly to the target cells. 


Basic and Translational Research on COPD  more information

LRRI has conducted extensive studies that determine the role of cell death regulating proteins in regulating the number of mucus-producing cells in airways.

  1. Cell and organ culture systems to investigate mechanisms involved in chronic bronchitis and emphysema.  Findings are tested in human tissues and in population studies.
  2. The role of cell death regulatory proteins in regulating mucous cell numbers
    1. In airways of cigarette smokers
    2. Patients with cystic fibrosis
    3. Patients with asthma
  3. The role of cell death regulatory proteins in affecting inflammation
  4. The role of polymorphisms in affecting mucus production


Clinical Trials to Test Efficacy of Investigational Drugs in Patients with COPD  more information

Through clinical trials, Lovelace Scientific Resources strives to improve the patient’s quality of life by assisting them in understanding their disease process. By way of clinical trials, patients can expand their treatment options allowing them to better manage their disease and future healthcare.


Training Young Investigators Interested in COPD Research

This program will help interested individuals to fully develop into independent investigators, and to be successful in competing for funds from various foundations or from federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health.