Environmental exposures are known to cause chronic diseases such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In recent years, the Lai Laboratory at Mass General has begun to understand that many non-communicable diseases are influenced or even caused by the microbial communities that have co-evolved with us. It is increasingly clear that environmental exposures may also modulate the human microbiome.
Our laboratory focuses on how common environmental exposures, such as air pollution influence lung health and the role the human microbiome plays in modulating the effect of such exposures.
The School Microbiome and Asthma Morbidity in Children
There is a fundamental gap in understanding how to define and create a “healthy” indoor microbial environment for the 300 million children and adults with asthma. We have been studying how the classroom microbiome of children affects their asthma, and how different air cleaning strategies changes the classroom microbiome and improve symptoms.
Household Air Pollution in Rural Uganda
There are three billion people living largely in resource-limited settings relying on solid fuels as their primary source of household energy. These fuels burn inefficiently, leading to household air pollution, which impacts the health of the most vulnerable. We have been studying the contribution of kerosene-based lighting to household air pollution and how a solar lighting intervention may reduce pollution exposure, improve health and provide additional collateral psychosocial benefits.
Effect of Hyperoxia on the Cystic Fibrosis Lung Microbiome
Oxygen is one of the most commonly prescribed treatments for severe lung disease. We are investigating how oxygen may also change the cystic fibrosis lung microbiome and growth of pathogens.