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Debra L Laskin Ph.D

Distinguished Professor Rutgers University – Ernest Mario School of PharmacyEOHSI – Toxicology
Work William Levine Hall Room 002 160 Frelinghuysen Road Piscataway NJ 08854 Work Phone: 848-445-5862 Work Fax: 732-445-2534
Photo of Debra L Laskin Ph.D

Biographical Info

Research Areas

The overall focus of our research is immunotoxicology. We are particularly interested in inflammatory mechanisms of tissue injury. Our focus is on macrophages. Although the involvement of macrophages in protecting against invading pathogens and tumor cells is well documented, studies from my laboratory have demonstrated that macrophages also have a “dark side”. Thus they can be activated to release excessive quantities of proinflammatory and cytotoxic mediators that actually promote tissue injury. An analysis of this process represents the main focus of our research. Two rodent models are being utilized to investigate the role of macrophages and inflammatory mediators in toxicity: the lung and the liver. In each of these tissues, we found that exposure of animals to xenobiotics is associated with localized accumulation of macrophages. Moreover, macrophages isolated from the lung or liver of animals treated with tissue specific toxicants like acetaminophen or ozone are “activated” to release increased quantities of inflammatory mediators such as tumor necrosis factor alpha, nitric oxide and superoxide anion. To analyze the role of these cytotoxic mediators in toxicity, both pharmacologic inhibitors and transgenic mice are being utilized. Another aspect of our studies is to elucidate biochemical mechanisms mediating macrophage activation in the liver and the lung. This has involved investigations on signaling molecules and transcription factors. Much of our research has taken advantage of new technological developments in biochemistry, molecular biology and flow cytometry/image analysis.

Research Highlights

  • Demonstrated that macrophages and inflammatory contribute to tissue injury induced by diverse pulmonary and hepatic toxicants
  • Discovered that pulmonary injury induced by ozone is mediated by cytotoxic reactive nitrogen species
  • Demonstrated that macrophage derived tumor necrosis factor –alpha plays a key role in both tissue injury and tissue repair
  • Identified distinct macrophage subpopulations that play unique role in tissue injury and tissue repair

Recent Awards and Honors

  • Society of Toxicology Education Award (2017)
  • Society of Toxicology, Inhalation and Respiratory Specialty Section Career Investigator Award (2015)
  • Society of Toxicology, Women in Toxicology Mentoring Award (2014)
  • Rutgers University Board of Trustees Award for Excellence in Research (2009)
  • Rutgers University Board of Trustees Award for Excellence in Research (2009)
  • Dermatology Specialty Section, Society of Toxicology, “Paper of the Year” Award (2009)
  • Named Roy Bowers Endowed Chair, Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy (2007)

Other Recent Activities

  • Vice Chair-elect: Inhalation and Respiratory Specialty Section, Society of Toxicology (2016-present)
  • Chair, Toxicology Division, American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (2014-2015)
  • Member, NIH Systemic Injury by Environmental Exposure (SIEE) Reveiw Panel (2013-present)
  • Deputy Director NIEHS Center for Environmental Exposures and Disease (2009-present)
  • Associate Editor, Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology (2001-present)
  • Director Flow Cytometry/Cell Sorting and Confocal Microscopy Core Facility, EOHSI (1986-present)

Recent Publications

  1. Murray, A, Gow, AJ, Venosa, A, Andres, J, Malaviya, R, Adler, D, Yurkow, E, Laskin, JD, Laskin, DL. Assessment of mustard vesicant lung injury and anti-TNF-α efficacy in rodents using live-animal imaging. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2020;1480 (1):246-256. doi: 10.1111/nyas.14525. PubMed PMID:33165947
  2. Malaviya, R, Kipen, HM, Businaro, R, Laskin, JD, Laskin, DL. Pulmonary toxicants and fibrosis: innate and adaptive immune mechanisms. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2020;409 :115272. doi: 10.1016/j.taap.2020.115272. PubMed PMID:33031836
  3. Malaviya, R, Abramova, EV, Rancourt, RC, Sunil, VR, Napierala, M, Weinstock, D, Croutch, CR, Roseman, J, Tuttle, R, Peters, E et al.. Progressive Lung Injury, Inflammation, and Fibrosis in Rats Following Inhalation of Sulfur Mustard. Toxicol Sci. 2020;178 (2):358-374. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfaa150. PubMed PMID:33002157
  4. Francis, M, Guo, G, Kong, B, Abramova, EV, Cervelli, JA, Gow, AJ, Laskin, JD, Laskin, DL. Regulation of Lung Macrophage Activation and Oxidative Stress Following Ozone Exposure by Farnesoid X Receptor. Toxicol Sci. 2020;177 (2):441-453. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfaa111. PubMed PMID:32984886 PubMed Central PMC7548292
  5. Mishin, V, Heck, DE, Laskin, DL, Laskin, JD. The amplex red/horseradish peroxidase assay requires superoxide dismutase to measure hydrogen peroxide in the presence of NAD(P)H. Free Radic Res. 2020; :1-9. doi: 10.1080/10715762.2020.1821883. PubMed PMID:32912004
  6. Herbert, J, Laskin, DL, Gow, AJ, Laskin, JD. Chemical warfare agent research in precision-cut tissue slices-a useful alternative approach. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2020;1480 (1):44-53. doi: 10.1111/nyas.14459. PubMed PMID:32808309
  7. Smith, LC, Venosa, A, Gow, AJ, Laskin, JD, Laskin, DL. Transcriptional profiling of lung macrophages during pulmonary injury induced by nitrogen mustard. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2020;1480 (1):146-154. doi: 10.1111/nyas.14444. PubMed PMID:32767459
  8. Radbel, J, Laskin, DL, Laskin, JD, Kipen, HM. Disease-modifying treatment of chemical threat agent-induced acute lung injury. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2020;1480 (1):14-29. doi: 10.1111/nyas.14438. PubMed PMID:32726497
  9. Businaro, R, Maggi, E, Armeli, F, Murray, A, Laskin, DL. Nutraceuticals as potential therapeutics for vesicant-induced pulmonary fibrosis. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2020;1480 (1):5-13. doi: 10.1111/nyas.14442. PubMed PMID:32725637
  10. Laskin, JD, Wahler, G, Croutch, CR, Sinko, PJ, Laskin, DL, Heck, DE, Joseph, LB. Skin remodeling and wound healing in the Gottingen minipig following exposure to sulfur mustard. Exp Mol Pathol. 2020;115 :104470. doi: 10.1016/j.yexmp.2020.104470. PubMed PMID:32445752 PubMed Central PMC7374066
Search PubMed
  1. Sunil, VR, Vayas, KN, Fang, M, Zarbl, H, Massa, C, Gow, AJ, Cervelli, JA, Kipen, H, Laumbach, RJ, Lioy, PJ et al.. World Trade Center (WTC) dust exposure in mice is associated with inflammation, oxidative stress and epigenetic changes in the lung. Exp. Mol. Pathol. 2017;102 (1):50-58. doi: 1016/j.yexmp.2016.12.005. PubMed PMID:27986442
  2. Francis, M, Groves, AM, Sun, R, Cervelli, JA, Choi, H, Laskin, JD, Laskin, DL. Editor’s Highlight: CCR2 Regulates Inflammatory Cell Accumulation in the Lung and Tissue Injury following Ozone Exposure. Toxicol. Sci. 2017;155 (2):474-484. doi: 1093/toxsci/kfw226. PubMed PMID:27837169
  3. Francis, M, Sun, R, Cervelli, JA, Choi, H, Mandal, M, Abramova, EV, Gow, AJ, Laskin, JD, Laskin, DL. Editor’s Highlight: Role of Spleen-Derived Macrophages in Ozone-Induced Lung Inflammation and Injury. Toxicol. Sci. 2017;155 (1):182-195. doi: 1093/toxsci/kfw192. PubMed PMID:27708193
  4. Mandal, M, Gardner, CR, Sun R, Choi H, Lad S, Mishin V, Laskin JD, Laskin DL. The spleen as an extramedullary source of inflammatory cells responding to acetaminophen-induced live injury. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2017; 304: 110-120. doi:1016/j.taap.2016.04.019.  PMCID: PMC5147741
  5. Venosa A, Malaviya R, Gow AJ, Hall L, Laskin JD, Laskin DL. Protective role of spleen-derived macrophages in lung inflammation, injury and fibrosis induced by nitrogen mustard. Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2015 Dec 15;309(12):L1487-98. doi: 10.1152/ajplung.00276.2015. PMID: 26475734 PMCID: PMC4683320 DOI: 10.1152/ajplung.00276.2015
  6. Malaviya R, Sunil VR, Venosa A, Verissimo VL, Cervelli JA, Vayas KN, Hall L, Laskin JD, Laskin DL. Attenuation of nitrogen mustard-induced pulmonary injury and fibrosis by anti-tumor necrosis factor antibody/Toxicol Sci. 2015 Nov;148(1):71-88. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfv161.
Categories: Faculty, Toxicology, Member
Updated 5 months ago.