The Rehabilitation Clinical Trials Center’s (RCTC) primary goal is to improve the lives of patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), a disease that afflicts roughly 30 million people in the United States and is the third leading cause of death. Other heart and lung diseases are also studied. The RCTC has expertise in:

  • Exercise physiology
  • Muscle biology
  • Pulmonary medicine
  • Clinical and translational research

A special focus is pulmonary rehabilitation, which has been demonstrated to reverse the muscle deconditioning associated with COPD, thereby relieving dyspnea, increasing exercise tolerance and quality of life to a greater extent than any other COPD therapy.

Studies in the RCTC have yielded strategies to improve the effectiveness of rehabilitative exercise training, a key component of pulmonary rehabilitation. More recently, the focus has included pursuit of strategies to increase physical activity in everyday life.

The RCTC has participated in several large NIH-sponsored clinical trials networks, and has served as a site in many interventional clinical trials involving pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic agents. Many of these have been in collaboration with the pharmaceutical and device manufacturing industry. Further, we have performed a large number of single center physiologically-oriented research studies.

In total, roughly 75 clinical trials have been pursued.

The laboratory’s investigators maintain a high international profile, with membership in a large number of guideline panels and writing groups. The RCTC has hosted numerous trainees, including post-doctoral scientists and research physicians from around the world. In recent work, the laboratory’s arsenal of tools has included:

  • Comprehensive pulmonary function testing
  • Cardiopulmonary exercise testing
  • Exercise flow-volume loop analysis
  • Non-invasive determination of ventilatory efficiency
  • Measures of cellular respiratory control in muscle biopsy specimens
  • Near-infrared spectroscopy measurement of oxygenation in muscle and brain
  • Assessment of exercise-induced central and peripheral fatigue
  • Electromyography
  • Hospital and medical intensive care focused studies
  • Bronchoscopy
  • Collection of sputum and lung lavage specimens for biomarker and cytology analysis
  • Medical device evaluations
  • Isokinetic dynamometry
  • Actigraphy

The RCTC has an active coordinator staff experienced in recruiting racially and socioeconomically diverse outpatient and inpatient participants into research studies. Current grant-supported activities are in the focus areas of:

  • Genetics of COPD
  • Exercise training strategies in COPD
  • Mechanisms of central and peripheral fatigue
  • Enhancing muscle efficiency in COPD
  • Muscle building therapies for sarcopenic or cachexic COPD patients
  • Therapies for muscle fatigue and hyperinflation in COPD
  • Analysis of spontaneous breathing patterns during exercise in COPD
  • Therapy to increase antioxidant capacity in the pulmonary
  • vasculature of patients with pulmonary hypertension
  • Prostaglandin inhibition as a therapy for emphysema
Respiratory Medicine and Exercise Physiology
Respiratory Medicine and Exercise Physiology