Denise Al Alam, PhD

Denise Al Alam, PhD

Investigator, The Lundquist Institute
Associate Professor of Pediatrics, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Understanding human lung development and congenital lung diseases

Research Description

Dr. Al Alam and her team are primarily focused on elucidating the basic mechanisms underlying lung branching morphogenesis in the human lung. Her group was amongst the first to report species-specific molecular and cellular differences in the progenitor cell populations in the developing lung between human and mouse.

Active areas of investigation in the lab include regulation of these progenitor cells by different signaling pathways, and identification of the mesenchymal niche required for their maintenance. Expanding on this work, Dr. Al Alam and her team are also investigating the patho-physiology of lung disease in Down Syndrome and other congenital lung diseases, during early development.


  • PhD, 2008, University de Reims Champagne-Ardennes

Recent and/or Significant Publications

Al Alam D, Danopoulos S, Grubbs B, et al. Human Fetal Lungs Harbor a Microbiome Signature. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2020;201(8):1002-1006. doi:10.1164/rccm.201911-2127LE
Danopoulos S, Bhattacharya S, Mariani TJ, Al Alam D. Transcriptional characterisation of human lung cells identifies novel mesenchymal lineage markers. Eur Respir J. 2020;55(1):1900746. Published 2020 Jan 23. doi:10.1183/13993003.00746-2019
Danopoulos S, Thornton ME, Grubbs BH, Frey MR, Warburton D, Bellusci S, Al Alam D. Discordant roles for FGF ligands in lung branching morphogenesis between human and mouse. J Pathol. 2019 Feb;247(2):254-265.
Danopoulos S, Alonso I, Thornton ME, et al. Human lung branching morphogenesis is orchestrated by the spatiotemporal distribution of ACTA2, SOX2, and SOX9. Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2018;314(1):L144-L149. doi:10.1152/ajplung.00379.2017
Al Alam D, El Agha E, Sakurai R, Kheirollahi V, Moiseenko A, Danopoulos S, Shrestha A, Schmoldt C, Quantius J, Herold S, Chao CM, Tiozzo C, De Langhe S, Plikus MV, Thornton M, Grubbs B, Minoo P, Rehan VK, Bellusci S, Evidence for the involvement of fibroblast growth factor 10 in lipofibroblast formation during embryonic lung development. Development. Dec 1;142(23):4139-50, 2015.