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Researcher | Research Overview

Dr. Kourembanas’ research program investigates the molecular and cellular basis of lung inflammation and the immune pathways modulating lung injury, tissue remodeling and repair in the developing lung. Using genetically modified mouse models, her group discovered that inflammation plays a critical role in the development of hypoxic pulmonary hypertension that has become a major focus of study for the lung vascular biology field exploring mechanisms of disease and therapeutic strategies targeting lung inflammation. A complementary active area of research in the lab is the study of stem cell-based therapies focusing on the biology and application of mesenchymal stem cell extracellular vesicles/exosomes (MEx) as vectors of intercellular signaling and potent immune modulators. Of note, her group was first to demonstrate the effect of MEx on preventing and reversing pulmonary hypertension and neonatal hyperoxic lung injury in experimental models, paving the way for future cell-free regenerative approaches for the treatment of important diseases of the newborn infant resulting from oxidant stress, inflammation, cell death, and dysregulated tissue repair.

Dr. Kourembanas serves as Program Director of a NIH-funded T32 program training physician-scientists in neonatal-perinatal medicine since 2003. She has served as PI on several previous and current NIH-funded grants including a Specialized Center of Research (SCOR) program on developmental lung injury and repair, and has led several collaborative basic and translational studies, as well as a clinical trial of inhaled nitric oxide for neonates with respiratory failure that have contributed new knowledge to this field.

Researcher | Research Background

Stella Kourembanas is the Clement A. Smith Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and Chief of the Division of Newborn Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital. Dr. Kourembanas received her M.D. from New York University Medical Center and completed her residency in Pediatrics at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston. She subsequently completed a Fellowship in Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine in the Joint Program of Neonatology of Harvard Medical School and was appointed to the faculty of the same Program. She has held the Clement A. Smith Professorship since 2005 and was appointed Chief of Neonatology at Boston Children’s Hospital and Academic Chair of the Harvard Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine Program that same year.

She is an internationally recognized expert on the biology of hypoxia and the investigation of stem cell-based therapies for the treatment of developmental and vascular diseases of the lung. She is an elected member to the American Society for Clinical investigation, the Pediatric Academic Societies, and the Society of Perinatal Research. She has given several State-of-the-Art, Keynote lectures, and named lectureships on her research discoveries at national and international symposia and has served as standing member and chair of NIH study sections and other Foundations including the Parker B. Francis Fellowship Program and the Hood Foundation. She has also been the recipient of two teaching awards from the Harvard programs for excellence in teaching and for mentoring the career development of Pediatric Residents (Janeway Award) and Neonatology Fellows (Bernfield Award). In particular, the Charles A. Janeway Teaching Award is considered the most prestigious distinction for teaching at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Researcher | Publications