Asthma & Airway Disease Research Center

Darren A Cusanovich

Assistant Professor, Cellular and Molecular Medicine
Assistant Professor, Research Scholar Track
Assistant Research Scientist
(520) 626-8639

Work Summary

Working at the nexus of functional genomics, computational biology, and cellular biology, our group is both experimental and computational. We develop novel single-cell genomic technologies and apply them to better understand lung development and disease.

Research Interest

Dr. Cusanovich received his B.S. in Music Business from Loyola University New Orleans in 2002. After a brief stint in the music industry in Los Angeles, he realized that his true passion was genomics. So, Dr. Cusanovich spent a few years in Donata Vercelli's Lab here at the University of Arizona - his first exposure to asthma genomics research. Dr. Cusanovich then got his Ph.D. in Human Genetics from The University of Chicago (in Yoav Gilad's lab). While there, Dr. Cusanovich studied how genetic variation in human populations perturbs gene expression and can lead to complex disease susceptibilities. Dr. Cusanovich then did his postdoctoral research in Jay Shendure's lab at the University of Washington. While in Seattle, he developed a novel single-cell chromatin accessibility assay and applied it to several model systems to study the variation in gene regulatory landscapes present in complex tissues. In 2018, Dr. Cusanovich accepted a position here at the UofA in Cellular and Molecular Medicine and the Asthma and Airway Disease Research Center. The Cusanovich Lab is interested in understanding how the human genome regulates itself to bring about all of the cellular diversity present in our bodies. In addition, we are interested in how genetic variation and environmental exposures in human populations impact that regulation and sometimes lead to complex disease. The particular disease model that we focus on is asthma, a complex disease affecting ~10-20% of the population. To study these phenomena, we use single-cell genomics technologies so that we can evaluate the impact of genetic and environmental variability from the perspective of whole tissues rather than having to isolate individual cell types or use simplistic cellular models. Lab website:

Ian F Robey

Research Scholar
Primary Department
(520) 626-5874

Research Interest

Ian Robey, PhD, is a Research Assistant Professor with the Department of Medicine, University of Arizona, and a Full Investigator at the Arizona Cancer Center. Dr. Robey is a new investigator studying the role of pH in tumor behavior. He is interested in the mechanisms driving acid-mediated invasion and metastases and how pH modulation can be used for therapeutic purposes in cancer treatment.Dr. Robey is published in over 20 research articles ranging in immunology and cancer biology. He regularly presents his research at national meetings and conferences. He is a lecturer for the introductory biology course for Biomedical Engineering and serves as a committee member for graduate student comprehensive examinations. He is a mentor for Molecular and Cellular Biology student projects. He has been a regular attending and voting IRB member since 2008. He is a regular peer reviewer of grant proposals and manuscripts. Dr. Robey’s current research is focused on investigating the mechanisms of systemic alkalinization in tumor bearing mice to inhibit the spread of metastases. The objective of my project is to advance the preclinical findings on the effects of tumor alkalinization to promote the application of eventual clinical trials with the expectation of establishing a research program bridging integrative medicine and diagnosis/ therapy driven non-invasive imaging methodologies.

Fernando Martinez

Professor, Pediatrics
Director, Asthma / Airway Disease Research Center
Endowed Chair, Swift - McNear
Regents Professor
Professor, Genetics - GIDP
Professor, BIO5 Institute
(520) 626-5954

Research Interest

Dr. Fernando D. Martinez is a Regents’ Professor and Director of the Asthma & Airway Disease Research Center at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Dr. Martinez is a world-renowned expert, and one of the most highly regarded researchers, in the field of childhood asthma. His primary research interests are the natural history, genetics, and treatment of childhood asthma. His groundbreaking research has had an impact on his field in numerous ways, most prominent among them the development of the concept of the early origins of asthma and COPD. This concept is now widely accepted as the potential basis for the design of new strategies for the prevention of these devastating illnesses affecting millions of children and adults worldwide. In addition, Dr. Martinez has made important contributions to our understanding of the role of gene-environment interactions in the development of asthma and allergies. He has also been the principal investigator of one of the Clinical Centers that are part of the NHLBI Asthma Treatment Networks, which have contributed fundamental new evidence on which to base national guidelines for the treatment of the disease. Dr. Martinez currently serves on national scientific boards including the NHLBI National Advisory Council and the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. He was a member of the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program that was responsible for the development of the Expert Panel Report: Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma in 1997 and its first revision in 2001. He also has been a member of the FDA Pulmonary-Allergy Drugs Advisory Committee and the Board of Extramural Advisors of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Dr. Martinez’s research and vision are well detailed in more than 250 original research papers and editorials, many in collaboration with investigators from all over the world. He is frequently invited to give keynote presentations at national and international meetings.

Stefano Guerra

Director, Epidemiology
Professor, Public Health
Professor, Medicine - (Tenure Track)
Research Scientist, Respiratory Sciences
Professor, BIO5 Institute
(520) 626-7411

Work Summary

Stefano Guerra's work includes an epidemiologic study, which used a household-based approach to assess prevalence and longitudinal changes in respiratory health. Other biomarker projects include a study on molecular biomarkers of asthma and COPD from the European Community Respiratory Health Survey.

Research Interest

Stefano Guerra, MD, PhD, is a professor of Medicine, the Director of the Population Science Unit at the Asthma and Airway Disease Research Center, and a leading expert in the natural history and biomarkers of obstructive lung diseases, including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). As principal investigator, he is engaged in the leadership and coordination of multiple studies that use bio-specimens and phenotypic information from independent epidemiological cohorts to characterize the natural history, profile the risk factors, and identify novel biomarkers of lung diseases.