LSU Vet Med researcher wins prestigious science and innovation award

May 19, 2023

Tirumalai Rangasamy, Ph.D., associate professor of research at the Center for Lung Biology and Disease, Department of Pathobiological Sciences (PBS), LSU School of Veterinary Medicine, has been named the 2023 Science and Innovation Center Abstract Award winner for his scientific abstract titled, "Chronic Secondhand Cigarette Smoke Exposure Enhances Susceptibility to Carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae Infection in a Mouse Model,” by the American Thoracic Society Assembly on Pulmonary Infections and Tuberculosis (PI-TB) Award Selection Committee.

"Dr. Rangasamy richly deserves this award for his impactful research on chronic second-hand smoke exposure. His scientific advances are moving us closer to discovering effective treatments for those suffering from diseases affecting the lungs, aligning with our bold vision to better lives," said Dean Oliver Garden, BVetMed, Ph.D., FHEA, FCPP, FRCVS, DACVIM, DECVIM-CA.

ATS 2023 showcases the latest advances and discoveries in respiratory science, patient care and global respiratory health. The ATS International Conference is the gathering place for pulmonary, critical care, and sleep professionals, ranging from those in the early stages of their careers to those who have gained international recognition for their research or clinical care advancements. Every year, approximately 14,000 of these professionals attend, present, and learn about the latest advances, while also connecting with colleagues from around the world and forging new collaborations.

“It is truly the convergence of today's science with tomorrow's care, which is especially important because Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is the third leading cause of death (killing nearly 3 million people each year), and there are no effective treatments. I am honored to receive this award,” Dr. Rangasamy said.

Dr. Rangasamy will deliver a presentation at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. on May 21 prior to receiving the prestigious award.

Under the mentorship of Professor Samithamby Jeyaseelan, DVM, Ph.D., Dr. Rangasamy's research focuses on COPD, allergic asthma, acute lung injury, septic shock, and pneumonia caused by various bacterial species, including Klebsiella pneumoniae, Carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae, Streptococcus pneumoniae, and Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus using different gene knockout mouse models.

“Dr. Rangasamy is a dedicated researcher, and I cannot think of anyone more deserving of the award. He is a major asset to our Louisiana Center for Lung Biology and Disease at LSU Vet Med and its mission to provide novel insights into the pathogenesis of devastating lung diseases that guide future improved strategies for treating and preventing the diseases," said Dr. Jeyaseelan, co-director/PI of the Center and professor of Immunology, Inflammation and Infectious Diseases.

Dr. Rangasamy is also investigating the therapeutic potential of lung mesenchymal stem cells in chronic secondhand cigarette smoke-induced pulmonary emphysema-associated bacterial exacerbations, as well as in different bacterial pneumoniae using pre-clinical mouse models.

Tobacco smoking is responsible for over 70 percent of COPD cases in high-income countries. COPD can be complicated by frequent exacerbations triggered by bacteria, viruses, and environmental pollutants. Recent studies have highlighted the role of the Gram-negative bacterium Klebsiella pneumoniae, including its multidrug-resistant (superbug) strain Carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae (CRKP), as recurrent bacterial pathogens in patients experiencing COPD exacerbations.

In 2019 alone, it was estimated that there were 4.95 million deaths associated with superbugs. There is currently no effective therapy available for treating patients with COPD or COPD exacerbations. Dr. Rangasamy and his colleagues have developed a novel model of COPD-associated bacterial exacerbations, specifically focusing on the mechanisms by which CRKP superbug causes exacerbations in mice with pulmonary emphysema induced by secondhand cigarette smoke.

“Because of the infection, the lungs cannot expand and contract, which inhibits breathing and can lead to death,” he said.

Dr. Rangasamy earned his Ph.D. at the University of Madras, India. His groundbreaking research is centered on pre-clinical animal models of various pulmonary afflictions, such as secondhand cigarette smoke (SHS)-induced pulmonary emphysema, allergic asthma, septic shock, and bacterial pneumonia.

Among Dr. Rangasamy’s significant contributions to the field of science are the development of novel animal models to support the oxidant-antioxidant hypothesis in the pathogenesis of SHS-induced pulmonary emphysema and allergic asthma and identifying the pulmonary emphysema-resistance gene, Nrf2, at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He has published numerous articles in international journals, presented his research at more than 45 national and international conferences, and serves on the editorial board of three scientific journals, including Frontiers in Immunology. He is valued member of the Science Advisory Board and is an honorary member of London Journal Press. Dr. Rangasamy is an Investigator/Co-investigator for more than 14 NIH-funded grants, and his dedication to scientific research have earned him over 14 national and international awards, including the prestigious Lasker Fellowship.

“I am grateful that my scientific research over many years can be useful in helping to alleviate suffering and save lives,” Dr. Rangasamy said.

After he receives his award and makes his conference presentation, he will return to the laboratory at LSU Vet Med and continue his life’s work seeking scientific breakthroughs leading to life-saving treatments.

About LSU Vet Med: Bettering lives through education, public service, and discovery

The LSU School of Veterinary Medicine is one of only 33 veterinary schools in the U.S. and the only one in Louisiana. The LSU SVM is dedicated to improving and protecting the lives of animals and people through superior education, transformational research, and compassionate care. We teach. We heal. We discover. We protect.