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When Bad Tastes Good

Discovery of Taste Receptors in the Lungs Could Revolutionize Asthma Treatment

Meet the Researcher

Stephen B. Liggett, M.D., obtained a Bachelors of Science in Physics from the Georgia Institute of Technology and later received his Doctorate of Medicine from the University of Miami School of Medicine. Dr. Liggett completed an internship and residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in pulmonary and critical care medicine at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, an affiliate of the Washington University School of Medicine. These experiences were followed by a four-year, laboratory-based post-doctoral fellowship at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Duke University.

Upon the completion of his post-doctoral fellowship, Dr. Liggett became an assistant professor of medicine and pharmacology at Duke University. He later accepted a position as professor of medicine, pharmacology and molecular genetics at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, where he also served as the director of pulmonary and critical care medicine.

After 13 years as the division director, Dr. Liggett became the Taylor Endowed Professor of Medicine and the director of the Cardiopulmonary Research Center at the University of Cincinnati, where he concentrated on his basic and translational research programs. In 2005, Dr. Liggett accepted a position at the University of Maryland School of Medicine as a professor of medicine and physiology and director of the Cardiopulmonary Genomics Program.

His current laboratory contains five major inter-related sections:

  1. The study of the molecular basis of G-protein coupled receptor structure and function.
  2. Delineation and characterization of human genetic variants within this receptor signaling network.
  3. Association studies of genetic variants with heart and lung disease and their response to treatment to develop a platform for genetically-based personalized medicine.
  4. Creation of genetically modified mice to define the mechanisms of heart and lung disease and "humanized mice" to explore the effects of genetic variation of human genes.
  5. Determination of the full genome sequences of human Rhinoviruses using high throughput next-generation sequencing technologies; analysis of the relationships between viral genomes and asthma phenotypes.

Dr. Liggett's studies have lead to new paradigms in the understanding of how this superfamily of receptors -- the largest in the human genome -- carry out signaling, how they participate in the pathophysiology of congestive heart failure and asthma, and how a patient's genetic makeup can be used to tailor drug treatment.

For More Information

For more information about Dr. Liggett and his research, please visit his faculty profile on the University of Maryland School of Medicine Web site.

This page was last updated on: October 21, 2010.