Eric Austin is a physician-scientist specializing in translational research studies. The Austin Research Lab is a combined laboratory-based and patient-oriented translational research program that focuses on pulmonary hypertension and other cardiopulmonary morbidities in children and adults with and without preexisting known genetic risks, including BMPR2 gene mutations. Our lab achieves success via close collaboration with multiple other investigative groups, and under the larger umbrella of the Vanderbilt University Pulmonary Vascular Research Program (VUPVRP) lead by Drs. James E. Loyd and John H. Newman in concert with multiple other investigators. In the modern era of translational research, mentorship and collaborations are critical; our lab is fortunate to collaborate with a large number of excellent investigators with expertise ranging from genetics to genomics to animal models to cell signaling to molecular biology to epidemiology to biostatistics to bioinformatics to clinical medicine and beyond—both at Vanderbilt University and at other institutions.
We maintain a longitudinal research cohort of patients with pulmonary hypertension (PH), family members at genetic risk of developing PH, and healthy subjects. In particular, our expertise focuses on evaluating the manner in which genetic, biochemical, environmental and other abnormalities promote phenotypic expression of PH and other cardiopulmonary diseases in children and adults. Our prospective observational cohort study allows for deep phenotyping in concert with biologic sample acquisition for genetic and biochemical studies at regular intervals. We employ both observational human studies and preclinical mechanistic investigations to improve our understanding of the pathogenesis of PH, especially pulmonary arterial hypertension. Applications of our work include next generation sequencing studies to identify novel variants associated with PH, pharmacoepidemiologic investigations, and biologic marker studies of perturbed sex hormone metabolism in humans with PH.
The collaborative interactions within the Vanderbilt University Pulmonary Vascular Research Program (VUPVRP) provide a rich milieu for investigation of children and adults with PH and other pulmonary vascular diseases. In total, the VUPVRP supports a wide range of studies from cells to animal models to humans. These include studies ranging from genetic and genomic investigations in humans, to in vitro-in vivo-ex vivo studies in cells and animals, to epidemiologic studies in humans, to investigator-initiated clinical trials in humans.