Over 60 researchers from more than 10 laboratories affiliated with the Keck School of Medicine of USC’s Hastings Center for Pulmonary Research (HCPR) gathered on Feb. 22 at the Huntington Library in San Marino to attend the second HCPR Retreat. The retreat was organized by Zea Borok, MD, HCPR director, professor of medicine, Ralph Edgington Chair in Medicine and chief of the division of pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine at the Keck School, together with a member of her laboratory, Alessandra Castaldi, PhD.

The daylong retreat began with a welcome and introduction by Borok. The retreat featured 15 presentations thematically grouped in four sessions to focus on lung development, genetic and epigenetic regulation; environmental risk factors in lung disease and cancer; distal lung pathology, imaging and pluripotent stem cells; and airway pathology and lung inflammation.

Each session was moderated by a Keck School affiliate, including Denise Al Alam, PhD, assistant professor of research surgery; Ite Offringa, PhD, associate professor of surgery and associate dean for graduate affairs (PhD programs); Parviz Minoo, PhD, professor of pediatrics; and Castaldi, research associate.

From left, Zea Borok and Scott H. Randell are seen during the Hastings Center for Pulmonary Research retreat. (Photo/Mary Jane Chua)

The retreat also included a presentation from a special guest speaker, Scott H. Randell, PhD, associate professor of cell biology and physiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Randell’s presentation was titled, “Stem Cells as Targets and Therapies for Cystic Fibrosis and Other Lung Diseases.” Randell gave a state-of-the-art review of the field, discussed recent advances in drug development as well as opportunities and challenges for cell therapy for this disease.

The HCPR is supported by the generosity of the Hastings Foundation through a $7.5 million gift over five years to create a nationally recognized center of excellence in lung research at the Keck School. In 2018, the Hastings Foundation renewed its commitment to the HCPR with a new gift of $12.5 million.

— Eric Weintraub