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Meet Darcy Wagner

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“When I look back, receiving the email saying that I had been awarded an ATS Foundation Research grant was one of the defining moments of my career,” says Darcy Wagner, PhD.

The 2016 grant recipient is studying the role of the extracellular matrix, the molecules secreted by cells that provides structural and biochemical support to the surrounding cells, in regulating lung repair and regeneration. The extracellular matrix, once thought to be a consequence of disease, is increasingly being viewed as its driver.

Dr. Wagner is specifically interested in fibrosis, and with her ATS grant is building “a new 3D model of the early phases of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis using precision cut lung slice culture from human lung tissue.” 

Although mouse models of fibrosis exist, none capture the complexity or heterogeneity of the disease. “Having a better model made from human lung tissue could begin to change the pipeline of IPF drug discovery,” she says.

Dr. Wagner says that the feedback she received from reviewers of her ATS grant proposal “has been extremely valuable in helping me think through my research project in different ways.”  This feedback, she adds, would have been helpful even if her proposal had not been funded because it would have strengthened future applications.

Since receiving the grant, Dr. Wagner, who was a fellow at Germany’s Comprehensive Pneumology Center, has started a new lab at Lund University in Sweden, where she is an assistant professor in experimental medical sciences.

Thank you, Dr. Wagner, for sharing your story!


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