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Research at NCIRE

NCIRE-The Veterans Health Research Institute is the leading private nonprofit institute devoted to Veterans health research in the United States. Our mission is to advance Veterans health through research.

We support the work of some of the nation's foremost physicians and scientists at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, the premier biomedical research facility in the VA system. All have faculty appointments at the University of California, San Francisco, which has its own proud traditions of research and patient care. We also partner with the U.S. Department of Defense to support health research on behalf of our men and women in the Armed Forces.

Those who have served in uniform have given their best for their country. In return, we believe that they deserve nothing less than the best health care research we can provide.

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James K. Brown, MD

Staff Physician, Assistant Chief of Pulmonary/Critical Care Medicine, SFVAHCS
Professor of Medicine, Cardiovascular Research Institute, UCSF


Scar Formation in Airways and Lungs

Dr. Brown focuses on the study of tryptase, an enzyme that is released from mast cells (a type of immune cell) in the airways and lungs. Dr. Brown and his fellow researchers discovered that in asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), tryptase can cause other cells to form scar tissue around airways, leading to airflow obstruction that is irreversible and difficult to treat.  Tryptase also causes scars to form in the lungs of patients with pulmonary fibrosis, making their lungs stiffer and causing shortness of breath. Dr. Brown's laboratory is one of the few in the world working to understand how tryptase causes scar formation so that medications to counteract its effects can be designed in a rational fashion.

To see Dr. Brown on Pub Med, click here.