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Wei Chao, MD PhD

Dr. Chao’s laboratory, a part of the Anesthesiology Translational Research Program, studies the innate immune signaling system and its role in sepsis, trauma, and myocardial ischemic injury. The laboratory has established state-of-the-art experimental systems that are essential for investigators to delineate the molecular, cellular, and organ physiological changes during sepsis, traumatic injuries, and tissue ischemia.

Using multimodal animal studies, the team has identified critical elements of the innate immune system, such as Toll-like receptors and alternative complement activation pathways, in cardiomyocyte death, myocardial inflammation, and cardiac dysfunction after sepsis and transient myocardial ischemia. Recent work in the lab focuses on identifying novel endogenous damage-associated molecule patterns (DAMPs), such as extracellular RNA and microRNAs, under various injurious conditions. Using Bioanalyzer, RNA-seq, miRNA arrays, and qRT-PCR, the lab has identified a group of G/U-rich miRNAs that are markedly up-regulated in plasma under the injurious conditions and proven these to be highly pro-inflammatory. The ultimate goal is to define the role of these extracellular miRNAs in the pathogenesis of sepsis, trauma, cardiac ischemia in animals and humans.