David Warburton, OBE, DSc, MD, MMM, FRCP, FRCS, FRCPCH

David Warburton, OBE, DSc, MD, MMM, FRCP, FRCS, FRCPCH

Director of the Department of the Army Research Program
Vice Chair for Surgical Research, Department of Pediatric Surgery
Professor of Pediatrics, Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine, Keck School of Medicine of USC
Pasadena Guild David Warburton Professor of Pediatrics, Surgery and Craniofacial Molecular Biology, USC Keck School of Medicine and Ostrow School of Dentistry

Dr. Warburton directs both the Developmental Biology, Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Therapeutics program and the Center for Environmental Impact on Global Health Across the Lifespan at The Saban Research Institute, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

A distinguished national and global scientific thought leader in maternal and child health, Dr. Warburton has established and leads a field termed molecular embryology of the lung.  He has published many foundational discoveries in this field, showing how morphogenetic signaling plays a key and necessary role in development of the lung. Subsequently, he has shown that these same processes are clearly replicated, but in an abnormal fashion, in common diseases of the child and adult lung including bronchopulmonary dysplasia, asthma, COPD, emphysema and fibrosis. He has in fact pioneered the concept that abnormal lung development is a precursor to many genetic as well as acquired diseases of the human lung.

Dr. Warburton founded this research program in 1986. It now comprises over 100 researchers seeking to find translational regenerative solutions for pediatric and adult diseases in many organ systems including lung, heart, gut, liver, pancreas, skin, bone and joint, and spinal cord fusion. More than 50 young scientists have become independent investigators under his mentorship during this period of time.

To date, he has made more than 400 contributions to the medical scientific literature in this and related fields, which have been cited over 15,000 times.

In his earlier work as a pioneering neonatologist, Warburton was instrumental in discovering several key parameters of intensive care for premature infants as well as for infants of diabetic mothers. His work has contributed to saving many hundreds of thousands of young lives in the United States and abroad.

Dr. Warburton is active in global health, particularly in emerging countries in Asia and Africa. For example, he has worked in Mongolia to improve child and maternal health for more than 15years. He founded a Department of Environmental Health at the National Mongolian University of the Medical Sciences and has supervised more than 20 graduate students working to improve the impact of air pollution on health across the lifespan in that country.

Dr. Warburton was born and educated in London at St. Thomas’s Hospital, and emigrated from the UK in 1976 to become a junior physician at Harvard and Brown. His most seminal medical scientific work has been conducted in Los Angeles. He has been honored by the Queen of England with the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for his collaborative work in UK/USA health care research and has been appointed a Fellow of several Royal Colleges.


Medical School

BSc, MB,BS (MD equivalent): St Thomas's Hospital Medical School, (now part of King's College), University of London

Graduate School

DSc, King's College, University of London
MMM, Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California


Medicine and Surgery, St Thomas's Hospital, University of London


Pediatrics, St Thomas's Hospital, University of London
Pediatric Cardiology, Royal Brompton Hospital
Pediatrics, Harvard University, Children's Hospital Medical Center, Boston


Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine, Women and Infants Hospital of Rhode Island



Board Certified in Pediatrics and Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine

Professional Memberships

Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh
Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England
Fellow of the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health
Fellow of the American Thoracic Society
American Pediatric Society
Society for Pediatric Research
Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science


Beanie Prize in Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Bhatia Medal and Prize in Paediatrics
Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire
Order of the Silver Falcon of Mongolia
Presidential Medal of the Mongolian National University of the Medical Sciences
Hero of the Order of Friendship of Mongolia


UO1HL12268 Warburton (P.I.) $4,000,000 06/14/2014-04/30/19
Molecular anatomy of human alveolar development
This UO1 grant is to make a detailed molecular map of human and mouse alveolarization.
1D43ES02286201 Warburton (P.I.) $2,000,000 02/14/13-01/31/18
Environmental and Respiratory Health Across the Lifespan in Mongolia
This DE43 grant is to do field capacity building and research on the effects of air pollution on lung health.
W81XWH-16-1-0253 Warburton (P.I.) $$2,000,000 09/01/16-08/31/19
PR150666 / U.S. Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity
Lung injury; relates to real time endoscopic monitoring of single cells’ respiratory health in lung
In this proposal we will set up and tune a new technology that quantifies the intrinsic cellular metabolism of lung cells, which can thus be applied as a portable diagnostic tool for lung injury.
Philanthropic support: Pasadena Guild Endowments, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Webb Foundation, Garland Foundation

Areas of Focus

Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine
Personalized integration of specialized care
Medico-legal consulting


LungMAP: The Molecular Atlas of Lung Development Program.
Ardini-Poleske ME, Clark RF, Ansong C, Carson JP, Corley RA, Deutsch GH, Hagood JS, Kaminski N, Mariani TJ, Potter SS, Pryhuber GS, Warburton D, Whitsett JA, Palmer SM, Ambalavanan N; LungMAP Consortium.
Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2017 Nov 1;313(5):L733-L740. doi: 10.1152/ajplung.00139.2017. Epub 2017 Aug 10. Review.
PMID: 28798251
Overview of Lung Development in the Newborn Human.
Warburton D.
Neonatology. 2017;111(4):398-401. doi: 10.1159/000458465. Epub 2017 May 25.
PMID: 28538234
Inhaled resveratrol treatments slow ageing-related degenerative changes in mouse lung.
Navarro S, Reddy R, Lee J, Warburton D, Driscoll B.
Thorax. 2017 May;72(5):451-459. doi: 10.1136/thoraxjnl-2016-208964. Epub 2017 Jan 9.
PMID: 28070015
Environmental pollution in Mongolia: effects across the lifespan.
Warburton D, Gilliland F, Dashdendev B.
Environ Res. 2013 Jul;124:65-6. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2013.04.002. Epub 2013 May 11. No abstract available.
PMID: 23673312 Free PMC Article
Developmental biology: order in the lung.
Warburton D.
Nature. 2008 Jun 5;453(7196):733-5. doi: 10.1038/453733a. No abstract available.


Human tissue developmental biology, repair, regeneration and engineering of lung, heart, intestine, pancreas, liver, kidney, skin, etc.
Microenvironment in lung development, injury and protection, repair and regeneration.
Impact of air pollution on global health across the lifespan, lung, brain, pregnancy outcome, maternal and child health.
Device development for detection of metabolic health of single airway cells.

Research Topics

Currently my personal research is focused on 3 major projects:
Molecular anatomy of human aleveolar development
Environmental and Respiratory Health Across the Lifespan in Mongolia
This DE43 grant is to do field capacity building and research on the effects of air pollution on lung health.

Research Focus

I have over 30 years’ experience as a thought leader in the fields of neonatal-perinatal medicine, developmental biology and regenerative medicine. As an Endowed and tenured professor at the University of Southern California, who has had continuous NIH funding since 1983, my studies have defined the origins of the cell lineages that comprise the developing lung and determined the processes underlying its stereotypic branching morphogenesis. I have trained more than 50 early stage PhD and MD scientists to successful independence, many of whom are by now Professors and Chairs in their own right with NIH and NSF funded laboratories both in the US and abroad. For my own part I have published over 300 contributions to the scientific literature in relevant fields that have been cited over 16,000 times with an h-factor of 68. I am an expert on coordinating productive teams of teams of medical and basic scientist in NHLBI U and P awards.

Key Findings

The development of the human lung differs significantly from that i the mouse. Our new work in the LungMAP shows this, which may be extremely important for adapting what we have learned over the years from mice to the human condition.
The impact of the severe seasonal air pollution on human biology in Ulan Baataar, the capital off Mongolia, has markedly adverse effects on human fertility and fetal well being.
The fluorescence signatures of airway lining cells allow us to identify the metabolic signatures of individual airway lining cells.

Warburton Laboratory

4650 Sunset Blvd.
The Saban Research Institute
Los Angeles, CA 90027
United States