ABOUT THE RESEARCHER

OVERVIEW

Dr. Kourembanas’ research program investigates the molecular and cellular basis of lung inflammation, hypoxic signaling, and developmental lung injury. Using various genetically-modified mouse models, her laboratory has been investigating the pathobiology of pulmonary hypertension and the transcriptional and epigenetic mechanisms by which hypoxia induces chemokine gene expression leading to lung inflammation and lung vascular remodeling.  An active area of research in the lab is the study of stem cell-based therapies, and in particular, the biology and application of mesenchymal stem cell exosomes as a novel therapeutic approach to the treatment of lung diseases including pulmonary hypertension and bronchopulmonary dysplasia. As a PI on several previous and current NIH-funded grants including a SCOR program, she has led several collaborative basic and translational studies that have contributed new knowledge to the field of lung biology.  Most notably, her group was among the first to demonstrate that inflammation plays a critical role in the development of pulmonary hypertension, an area that has recently received wide interest and has become a major focus of study by lung biologists investigating mechanisms of disease and therapeutic strategies targeting lung inflammation.  

Dr. Kourembanas has a long track record of mentoring scientists in lung biology for over 20 years, many of whom are successful independent investigators and program leaders in their own right. She also serves as Program Director of a NIH-funded T32 program training physician-scientists in neonatal-perinatal medicine since 2003.  She is an internationally-recognized expert on the biology of hypoxia and the investigation of stem cell therapies for the treatment of developmental and vascular diseases of the lung. She is an elected member to American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Pediatric Academic Societies, and the Society of Perinatal Research. She has given several State-of-the-Art, Keynote lectures, and named lectureships on her research discoveries at National and International Symposia and has served as standing member of NIH study sections on Lung Biology & Pathology (LBPA) and Respiratory Integrative Biology & Translational Research (RIBT), the Hood Foundation, and the Parker B. Francis Fellowship Program. 

BACKGROUND

Dr. Kourembanas was raised in Brooklyn, New York and attended Barnard College.  She received her M.D. from New York University Medical Center and completed her residency in Pediatrics at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.  She subsequently completed a Fellowship in Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine in the Joint Program in Neonatology of Harvard Medical School, and was appointed to the Faculty of the same Program.  She rose through the ranks to Professor at Harvard Medical School, and in 2005, she was appointed Chief of Neonatology at Boston Children’s Hospital and Academic Chair of the Harvard Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine Program.

In addition to her teaching and administrative responsibilities, she is a full time clinical attending in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit providing care to critically-ill infants.  She has also been the recipient of two teaching awards from the Harvard Programs for excellence in clinical teaching and for mentoring the career development of Pediatric Residents (Janeway Award) and Neonatology Fellows (Bernfield Award). In particular, the Charles A. Janeway Teaching Award is considered the most prestigious distinction for teaching at Boston Children’s Hospital.