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Craig P. Hersh, MD, MPH

Research Areas: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency; asthma; idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis; genetics; epidemiology; RNA sequencing; single cell sequencing; spatial transcriptomics; precision medicine

As a physician-scientist, my research integrates the tools of genetics, genomics, and epidemiology to improve precision in the diagnosis and treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). We aim to understand COPD susceptibility and subtypes, primarily through human observational studies. I have also work on similar projects in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), another smoking-related severe lung disease. Most of my research is within the NHLBI-sponsored COPDGene Study, a longitudinal study of over 10,000 current and former smokers followed for more than 10 years. In COPDGene, I co-direct the BWH clinical center, and I co-direct the study wide RNA-sequencing efforts in over 4000 subjects to date. In addition, we utilize other large studies, such as the Lung Tissue Research Consortium. My group’s approach to COPD genetic epidemiology is to start with a clinical question, then try to understand the epidemiology, such as disease phenotypes and subtypes. Then we incorporate genomics and biomarkers. Another area of my research and clinical interest is alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, a genetic condition which can lead to lung and liver disease. For over a decade, I have volunteered with the Alpha-1 Foundation, a patient-led foundation for advocacy, education, and research. I have a clinical appointment in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at BWH, where I direct the clinical COPD Program, which provides specialized care to patients with severe COPD. I lead the Alpha-1 Foundation Clinical Resource Center, treating patients referred from throughout New England and beyond.

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