Rhinology/Sinus Research

Julia S. Kimbell, PhD, joined the faculty in June 2009 as a Research Associate Professor. She is currently conducting research on applications of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to studies of nasal uptake and deposition. This research has three main areas of focus: (1) dose-response studies that test hypotheses about the role of dose in respiratory tract responses to inhaled materials, (2) risk assessment studies in which animal responses are extrapolated to humans on the basis of dose predictions in similar tissue types, and (3) research in medicine and therapeutics in which we seek to establish the use of computational fluid dynamics in planning nasal surgery and delivering inhaled therapeutic drugs more effectively.

In this research, cross-sectional images of tissue specimens and human anatomy are used to build three-dimensional, anatomically-accurate CFD models of the nasal passages of laboratory mice, rats, primates, and humans. Human subjects in our database range in age from 5 to 64 years old and include several ethnic types and both males and females. She and her collaborators have recently completed studies using these models on the deposition of nano-sized particles in the rat olfactory area and how regional dose predictions of inhaled particles and reactive, water-soluble gases compare among the upper respiratory tracts of several children and adults. They also recently used their human CFD models to predict and optimize nasal deposition patterns of both sprayed and nebulized medications, and to improve our understanding of the potential effects of surgery on nasal function for partial turbinectomy, atrophic rhinitis, and septal deviation.

She is currently funded to conduct research using their CFD models to (1) study possible associations of patient-reported symptoms with specific variables computed from three-dimensional CFD models of the patients’ nasal passages based on CT scans taken both before and after surgery (NIH/NIBIB), (2) calibrate interspecies nasal and lung dosimetry models to predict respiratory tract dose of inhaled raw fragrance chemicals in rats and humans (Research Institute for Fragrance Materials), (3) test hypotheses about the mechanisms of age-related ozone toxicity in the respiratory tract lining and epithelium and to extend this research to other animal species (NIH/NIEHS), (4) extend our previous rat nanoparticle deposition in olfactory-lined nasal areas to humans (NIOSH), and (5) help develop three-dimensional biologically-based models of the respiratory tracts of animals and humans determine structural and functional properties, cellular organization, and metabolic capacity (NIH/NHLBI). She and her collaborator, Principal Investigator John Rhee, MD (Medical College of Wisconsin), have just been approved for additional funding from NIH to add a postdoctoral fellow and a drug delivery component to our NIBIB-funded surgery project as well.