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Jahar Bhattacharya, M.D., Ph.D.

Professor of Physiology & Cellular Biophysics

Endothelial mechanisms of lung injury using cultured cells and the optically imaged lung.


We study the cell and molecular biology of lung inflammation by real-time fluorescence imaging and multiple other approaches. Severe, rapidly progressing lung inflammation causes the disease called Acute Lung Injury (ALI), a debilitating condition in which there is breakdown of fluid barriers separating blood from the inhaled air, causing fluid accumulation in the lung’s airspaces. The resulting respiratory failure requires respiratory support by mechanical ventilators in critical care units. It is estimated that about 250,000 people suffer from ALI in the US alone, with a mortality rate of 20-25%. Patients who survive the disease continue to have a high rate of morbidity for many years. Despite these statistics, there is really no "cure" for ALI in the sense that one cannot administer an agent that reverses the illness or blocks its progress. The available therapy continues to be supportive in that the patient's physiological deterioration is kept in check.

Prime causes of ALI are infection and sepsis. According to the WHO, lower respiratory tract infections are the fifth largest cause of death in high-income countries and the third largest cause worldwide. Other causes include gastric acid aspiration, lung barotrauma, pulmonary embolism and smoke inhalation. These conditions can be replicated in animal models, providing a means to understand basic disease mechanisms and to develop products that might be therapeutically effective in the clinical setting.

Our ongoing projects include research in immunity, fluid barriers, barrier-enhancing biologics (we have patented one biologic), surfactant secretion, water secretion, micromechanics, stem cells and macrophages. In the last three years, our publications have appeared in high-impact journals, including the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Nature Communications, Nature Medicine and Nature. Despite the competitive times for federally supported research funding, we expect our research to grow considerably in the near future.

The Irene and Arthur Fishberg Prize for significant contributions to internal medicine, Columbia University.

Selected Publications


Jasmine Lee*, Mohammad Naimul Islam*, Kaveh Boostanpour, Dvir Aran, Stephanie, Christenson, Michael A. Matthay, Walter Eckalbar, Daryle J. DePianto, Joseph R., Arron, Liam Magee, Sunita Bhattacharya, Rei Matsumoto, Masaru Kubota, Donna L. Farber, Jahar Bhattacharya*, Paul J. Wolters*, Mallar Bhattacharya*. *Equal contribution. Molecular programs of fibrotic change in aging human lung. Nat Commun. Nov 2021 2:12(1).  PMID: 34728633

Galina A. Gusarova, Shonit R. Das, Mohammad N. Islam, Kristin Westphalen, Guangchun Jin, Igor O. Shmarakov, Li Li, Sunita Bhattacharya, Jahar Bhattacharya. Actin fence therapy with exogenous V12Rac1 protects against Acute Lung Injury. JCI Insight. 2021 Mar 22; 6(6): e135753. PMCID: PMC8026177


Hough RF, Islam MN, Gusarova GA, Jin G, Das S, Bhattacharya J. Endothelial mitochondria determine rapid barrier failure in chemical lung injury.  JCI Insight. 2019, 4(3). PMID:30728333


Westphalen K, Gusarova GA, Islam MN, Subramanian M, Cohen TS, Prince AS, Bhattacharya J. Sessile alveolar macrophages communicate with alveolar epithelium to modulate immunity. Nature. 2014 Feb 27;506(7489):503-6. PMCID: PMC4117212.


Islam MN, Das SR, Emin MT, Wei M, Sun L, Westphalen K, Rowlands DJ, Quadri SK, Bhattacharya S, Bhattacharya J. Mitochondrial transfer from bone-marrow-derived stromal cells to pulmonary alveoli protects against acute lung injury. Nat Med. 2012 Apr 15;18(5):759-65.  PMC3727429.

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