The photograph of blue, pink and neon-green globes that Christina Barkauskas, MD, keeps on her desk inside the Nanaline Duke Research Building looks like a string of glowing holiday lights. That is, until she decodes it.
Produced with a confocal microscope, the image is evidence of new insight into how some lung tissue repairs itself. It captures type 2 epithelial cells within alveoli functioning like stem or progenitor cells by giving rise to type 1 epithelial cells, which contribute to tissue repair.
For Dr. Barkauskas, this is not knowledge for knowledge’s sake. It’s data needed to better serve patients with often-lethal idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.