Dr. Wendt has a long-standing interest in clinical and translational research in COPD, specifically focusing on biomarkers and pathways of disease. Dr. Wendt has participated on five large NIH COPD trials, three of which are ongoing and are a resource for developing trainees and junior faculty interested in clinical research. In addition, Dr. Wendt was recently the PI of a FAMRI award for a clinical trial related to the microbiome. This study provided a platform for a junior faculty (CDA awardee) to gain experience in clinical trials and to participate in the expansion to a multi-center trial. Dr. Wendt's current translational work has focuses on biomarkers and causal pathways in COPD leading to lung cancer (VA Lung Precision Oncology Program) and HIV associated COPD (NIH R01). These translational projects combine multiple investigators with expertise in genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, computational and systems biology. Dr. Wendt also participates in a VA Cooperative Study (SHADE) to determine the respiratory effects of particulate matter in deployed Veterans and has a VA Collaborative Merit Award to phenotype exposure related pulmonary disease in the SHADE cohort. Through all this work Dr. Wendt has fostered cross-discipline collaborations, creating mentoring and collaborative opportunities for trainees and junior faculty. Dr. Wendt has and continues to accumulate a substantial and successful mentoring record. Dr. Wendt has mentored 5 graduate students,11 fellows, 3 PhD post-doctoral fellows and 5 faculty. Most notably are Dr. Alexa Pragman, recipient of VA CDA and recent VA Merit Award (microbiome in COPD), Dr. Theresa Laguna, recipient of NIH R01 (microbiome in CF infants) and recently recruited as Division Director of Pulmonary, Northwestern University, Dr. Maneesh Bhargava, recipient of CTSI K award and NIH R01, Dr. Arianne Baldomero, recipient of CTSI KL2 Award, Dr. Dwight Stoll, Professor and Co-Chair of Chemistry at Gustavus University and Dr. Filippo Colleti, Aerospace Engineering, recipient of NIH R22 (structure-function in COPD) and promoted to Associate Professor with tenure. Dr. Wendt also has extensive involvement with the American Thoracic Society (ATS) including chairing multiple assembly committees, which is a resource for networking and involvement for trainees and junior faculty.
Dr. Wendt’s research has focused on both clinical and translational research in COPD and associated contributors including tobacco, HIV, air pollution and COPD as a causal pathway to lung cancer. Dr. Wendt has participated on five large NIH COPD trials, including the NIH COPD Clinical Research Network and COPDGene. A significant area of focus includes identifying biomarkers and pathways of disease, particularly in lung cancer and HIV associated COPD. This translational program combines multiple investigators with expertise in genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, computational and systems biology. Much of this work has included applying mass spectrometry techniques to measure proteins and metabolites in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF). This includes the development of a robust protocol to perform mass spectrometry, high throughput proteomics on small volumes of BALF. This workflow is highlighted in a recent publication and part of Dr. Wendt’s participation in an ATS document on BALF. Using this robust technique has led to new discoveries in proteomic and metabolic pathways in HIV-associated COPD and the role of complicated protease networks.
Dr. Wendt’s interest in air pollution and chronic lung disease dates to her participation as a delegate for the University of Minnesota and Chinese Academy of Science to address the health effects of air pollution in China. This resulted in two publications on the effects of air pollution exposure on lung disease and biomarkers of lung disease. Following this she became a Site PI for the VA Cooperative Study #595 Service and Health Among Deployed Veterans (SHADE). SHADE is an epidemiology study to determine the effects of deployment-related air pollution exposure, including burn pits, on lung function and symptoms. This study uses sophisticated modeling to identify individual air pollution exposure to correlate to lung function and symptoms. To further characterize this population, Dr. Wendt was awarded a VA Merit Award as part of a Cooperative Merit Award to characterize biomarkers of airway injury and inflammation in a subset of SHADE participants with respiratory symptoms. These biomarkers in combination with assessment of anatomical and structural changes on chest computed tomography and airway physiology in the same Veteran population will allow detailed characterization of respiratory endotypes related to PM2.5 exposure. In addition, using the VA Corporate Data Warehouse (CDW) we have identified over 1.2 million Veterans with COPD and using this unique cohort is in collaboration with Dr. Berman, Environmental Sciences, to determine the association of air pollution and mortality in a vulnerable population.
Clinical Interests COPD; Critical Care Clinic Focus My major clinical focus has been on advanced therapies for emphysema. I am the Co-Director of the Lung Volume Reduction Surgery Program and I am currently participating on the NIH COPD Clinical Research Network. The University of Minnesota has been designated the clinical coordinating center for this network.