Aerial view of the Saban Research Institute building.

Warburton Laboratory

Research Interests

  • 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.

Current Studies

The LungMAP study is identifying novel structural features of the mouse and human lung and placing them in the context of spatial gene expression and metabolism within a cloud based computing system.

The NIEHS/Fogarty grant in Mongolia has helped found a new graduate prpogram in Environmental Health Sciences at the Mongolian National University of Medical Sciences. We are training Masters and Graduate level students who are already populating the environmental monitoring and health sectors in Mongolia with trained experts. We are also collaborating with child health and obstetric experts to identify the effects of this pollution on pregnancy, maternal and child health.

The Department of the Army studies on individual cell metabolism in the airways are designed to detect airway damage early in young adults.

Key Findings

  • The development of the human lung differs significantly from that of 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.


  • 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

In the News

Selected Publications

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.