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Prof. John Laffey

Professor of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine, NUI Galway

Professor of Anaesthesia, NUI Galway

Acute Lung Injury – pathogenesis and therapeutic strategies. Development of therapeutic strategies for acute lung injury and ARDS

Researcher in

Research Project Area: 

Project 1 Title   Investigation of the potential for Mesenchymal Stem Cells to attenuate the severity of Ventilator Induced Lung Injury.

Project 2 Title   Investigation of the potential for Mesenchymal Stem Cells to facilitate recovery and lung repair following Ventilator Induced Lung Injury.

Project 3 Title   Hypercapnic Acidosis and Ventilator Induced Lung Injury: Developing strategies to minimize injury and facilitate Repair.

Project 4 Title   Modulation of NF-kB to enhance the safety and therapeutic potential of Hypercapnic Acidosis in Sepsis induced ARDS’.

Project 5 Title   Determining the role of attenuation of oxidant mediated injury in mediating the effects of Hypercapnic acidosis in acute lung injury.

Positions Held: 

June 2006-Present   Professor of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine, School of Medicine, NUI Galway & Galway University Hospitals

July 2002-June 2006  Consultant in Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine, Galway University Hospitals

Awards & Honours: 

2001 – 2002
HRB Postdoctoral Fellowship, Department of Physiology, University College Dublin

Doctor of Medicine (MD) Degree, NUI Galway

Certificate of Specialist Training in Anaesthesia, College of Anaesthetists

Young Investigator Award, American Society of Critical Care Anesthesiologists

1999 – 2000
Research Fellowship in Lung Biology, Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto


Selected Publications: 

(1) Devaney J, Contreras M, Laffey JG. Gene Therapy for ALI/ARDS: where are we now? Critical Care 2010 (in press).

(2) Curley G, Hayes M, Laffey JG. Can ‘permissive’ hypercapnia modulate sepsis induced ALI/ARDS? Critical Care 2010 (in press).

(3) Curley G, Laffey JG, Kavanagh BP. Bench to Bedside Review: Carbon Dioxide. Critical Care 2010 14:220.

(4) MacLoughin R, Higgins B, Laffey JG, O’Brien T. Optimised aerosol delivery in an in vitro model of a mechanically ventilated rodent. J Aerosol Med 2009 Dec;22(4):323-32.

(5) Higgins BD, Costello J, Contreras M, Hassett P, O’Toole D, Laffey JG. Differential effects of buffered hypercapnia versus hypercapnic acidosis on shock and lung injury induced by systemic sepsis. Anesthesiology 2009 Dec; 111(6): 1317-1326.

(6) Costello J, Higgins B, Contreras M, Ni Chonghaile M, Hassett P, O’ Toole D, Laffey JG. Hypercapnic acidosis attenuates shock and lung injury in early and prolonged systemic sepsis. Crit Care Med 2009 (in press).

(7) Nichol A, O’ Croinin D, Howell K, Naughton F, O’Brien S, Boylan J, O’Connor CM, O’Toole D, Laffey JG, McLoughlin P. Infection induced lung injury is worsened following renal buffering of hypercapnic acidosis Crit Care Med 2009 (in press).

(8) MacLoughin R, Higgins B, Laffey JG, O’Brien T. Optimised aerosol delivery in an in vitro model of a mechanically ventilated rodent. J Aerosol Med 2009 (in press).

(9) Ni Chonghaile M, Higgins B, Costello J, Laffey JG. Hypercapnic Acidosis Attenuates Lung Injury Induced by Established Bacterial Pneumonia. Anesthesiology 2008; 109(5):837-848

(10) Ni Chonghaile M, Higgins B, Costello J, Laffey JG. Hypercapnic acidosis attenuates the severity of severe pulmonary sepsis by a neutrophil independent mechanism. Critical Care Medicine 2008 Dec;36(12):3135-44.

(6) Heraty KB, Laffey JG, Quinlan HJ. Fluid dynamics of gas exchange in high frequency oscillatory ventilation: in vitro investigations in idealised and anatomically realistic airway bifurcation models. Annals of Biomedical Engineering 2008 Nov;36(11):1856-69. Epub 2008 Sep 11 [PMID: 18785010]

(11) O'Croinin DF, Nichol AD, Hopkins N, Boylan J, O'Brien S, O'Connor C, Laffey JG, McLoughlin P. Sustained hypercapnic acidosis during pulmonary infection increases bacterial load and worsens lung injury* Crit Care Med. 2008 Jul;36(7):2128-35. PMID: 18552698

(12) Kennedy M, Higgins B Laffey JG. Hypertonic Saline reduces inflammation and enhances the resolution of Oleic Acid induced Acute Lung Injury. BMC Pulmonary Medicine 2008 Jul 8;8(1):9. [PMID: 18611275]

(13) O' Croinin DF, Hopkins NO, Moore MM, Boylan JF, McLoughlin P, Laffey JG. Hypercapnic acidosis does not modulate the severity of bacterial pneumonia-induced lung injury. Crit Care Med. 2005 Nov;33(11):2606-2612

(14) Laffey JG, Honan D, Hopkins N, Hyvelin JM, Boylan JF, McLoughlin P. Hypercapnic Acidosis Attenuates Endotoxin-induced Acute Lung Injury. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine 2004 Jan 1;169(1):46-56.

(15) Laffey JG, Jankov R, Engelberts D, Tanswell AK, Post M, Lindsay T, Mullen JB, Romaschin A, Stephens D, McKerlie C, Kavanagh BP. Effects of Therapeutic Hypercapnia on Mesenteric Ischemia – Reperfusion Injury. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine 2003 Dec 1;168(11):1383-90.

(16) Laffey JG, Kavanagh BP. Mechanisms of Disease: Hypocapnia. The New England Journal of Medicine 2002; 347 (1): 43-53.

(17) Laffey JG, Kavanagh, BP. Carbon dioxide and the critically ill: too little of a good thing? Lancet 1999 Oct 9; 354(9136): 1283 – 1286.

Professional and Personal Interests: 

John Laffey' s major research interest is in the study of the pathophysiology of, and the development of therapeutic strategies for, acute lung injury and ARDS, a devastating disease process affecting seriously ill adults and children. His clinical interests include intensive care medicine, obstetric, paediatric and vascular anaesthesia, and acute pain medicine.

The Lung Biology team at NUI Galway, in collaboration with REMEDI, aims to develop novel regenerative medicine approaches for patients with Acute Lung Injury and Acute Respiratoy distress Syndrome (ALI/ARDS), a devastating disease, which exerts a considerable disease burden, and for which there are no therapies at present.

The team is studying the therapeutic efficacy of a variety of gene therapy and stem cell approaches both alone and in combination. Animal models currently in use include rodent acute lung injury (ALI) induced by bacterial pneumonia, high stretch ventilation. The group has published experience in the use of pulmonary and systemic ischaemia-reperfusion, free radical, and toxin induced ALI. We are currently focused on the use of rodent mesenchymal stem cells, in these ALI models. Promising approaches that emerge from these preclinical studies will be taken to clinical study. In this regard, we have access to human stem cells that are produced according to protocols which are described in the investigational medicinal product dossier by the REMEDI GMP team to ensure suitability of data for regulatory submission.

Clinical Translation Team: REMEDI contains a GMP facility and has access to a recently approved Clinical Research Facility (CRF) at Galway University Hospital with dedicated infrastructure for clinical trials in regenerative medicine. The CRF is a constituent of the Irish Clinical Research Infrastructure which links all such facilities in Ireland.
The director of the Lung Biology group (John Laffey) is also the deputy director of the Irish Critical Trials Group, a network of 15 Intensive Care units across the Island of Ireland. This group is currently leading an international, multicentre phase 2/3 clinical trial of the use of Simvastatin in ALI/ARDS [HARP-2 study], underlining its capacity for translational research in ALI/ARDS.

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