Richard C Boucher, MD

James C. Moeser Eminent Professor of Medicine and Director of the Marsico Lung Institute.

Research Focus

Boucher Headshot

Richard C. Boucher, MD

Dr. Boucher's lab has focused on the normal physiology of airway surface liquids (ASL) and how this system fails in airways diseases, e.g., cystic fibrosis and COPD.  The lab pursues a variety of investigations into the functions of airway epithelia in health and disease. In general terms, the lab focuses on five interrelated areas of research:

  1. Airway Surface Liquid (ASL) physiology in health and how it fails in major airways diseases, e.g. the "dehydration hypothesis as relates to CF" (Figure 1).
  2. Airway epithelial Na+ transport, including studies of normal regulation of airway epithelial Na+ transport, and role of Na+ transport in airways disease, including mouse models over-expressing subunits of the epithelial Na+ channel (ENaC) (Figures 2, 3).
  3. Extracellular nucleotides and their role in airways homeostasis, including the role of P2 receptors in airway epithelial function, extracellular nucleotidases; and measuring the rates of metabolism of nucleotides and nucleotide release from cells.
  4. Gene therapy for CF lung disease, particularly focusing on investigations of barriers to gene transfer, and improved vector targeting.
  5. Clinical studies: a current area of interest focuses on Na+ channel blockers and hypertonic saline (Figures 4-6).


Figure 1 Small

Figure 1. CF Airways Disease: The “Dehydration” Hypothesis. Annual Review of Medicine, 2007.

Figure 2_Small

Figure 2. The βENaC Mouse Model: A Phenocopy of CF Lung Disease. Nature Medicine, 2007. 

Figure 3 Small

Figure 3. Survival Curves and Causes of Death of Scnn1b (βENaC) Mice. Nature Medicine, 2004. 










Figure 4 Small

Figure 4. CF Produces Heterogeneous Structural and ‘Basal’ Mucus Clearance Lung Defects. NEJM, 2006. 

Figure 5 Small

Figure 5. Therapeutic Strategies to Rehydrate CF Airway Surfaces. Curr Opin Pharm, 2010. 

Figure 6 Small

Figure 6. Airway Surface Liquid Height in Human Bronchial Epithelial Culture Response to Aerosolized Hypertonic Saline +/- Long-Acting Na+ Channel Blocker. 











Biographical Sketch

Education and Training

(1966) B. A., Yale University, New Haven, CT, Psychology.
(1970) M.D., College of Physicians & Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, NY.
(1970-1972) Internship/Residency - Medicine, Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY.
(1974-1975) Resident, Cardiorespiratory, Royal Victoria Hospital, Montreal, Canada.
(1975-1977) Research Fellow, Meakins-Christie Lab, McGill University, Montreal, Canada.
(1977) Fellowship, Department of Medicine, Royal Victoria Hospital, Montreal, Canada.

Professional Experience

(2008-present) Co-PI, Translational Research, CTSA.
(2008-present) Executive Director, North Carolina BioStart.
(1988-present) Director, Cystic Fibrosis/Pulmonary Research & Treatment Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC.
(1997-present) William R Kenan Professor of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC.
(1993-present) Co-Director, UNC Gene Therapy Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC.
(1990-2002) Chief, Division of Pulmonary Diseases, Critical Care, & Occupational Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC.
(1985-present) Professor of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC.
(1981-1985) Associate Professor of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC.
(1977-1981) Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC.

Honors and Awards

Phi Beta Kappa.
Alpha Omega Alpha.
(1980-1984) American Heart Established Investigator.
(1989) Doris Tulcin Cystic Fibrosis Research Award.
(1993) Paul D’Sant Agnese Distinguished Scientific Achievement Award (Cystic Fibrosis Foundation).
(1997) William R Kenan Professorship, UNC-Chapel Hill.
(1999) Julius Comroe Award, American Physiology Society.
(2007) 1st Annual Champion for a Cure Award, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
(2008) UNC Norma Berryhill Award, 2008.
(2008) NIEHS Martin Rodbell Award, NIEHS, RTP, NC.
(2009) Distinguished Scientific Achievement Award, American Thoracic Society.


New York State, November 7, 1974, No. 122347 North Carolina, April 3, 1978.
Diplomate National Board Medical Examiners, 1971, No. 113274.
Diplomate American Board of Internal Medicine, June, 1975.
Board Certified American Board Pulmonary Medicine, June, 1976.


>30 issued patents; >20 filed patents.

Professional Societies

American Association for the Advancement of Science.
American Society for Clinical Investigation.
American Thoracic Society.
Association of American College of Physicians.
American Clinical & Climatological Association.
Canadian Thoracic Society.


(1985-1990) VA Hospital, Fayetteville, NC.
(1992-present) Inspire Pharmaceuticals, Morrisville, NC.
(2001-present) Cyfi Pharmaceuticals, Durham, NC.
(2007-present) Pulmatrix, Boston, MA.

Editorial Appointments

(1990-present) Experimental Lung Research: Associate Editor.
(2003-present)Journal of Applied Physiology: Respiratory Environmental Exercise Physiology, Pulmonary Pharmacology, Journal of Purinergic Research.
(1998-present) Gene Therapy.
(1995-1998) American Journal of Respiratory Cell & Molecular Biology, Assoc. Editor.
(1995-present) Human Gene Therapy.
(1/1/2004-12/31/2008) Section Editor on “Pulmonary Diseases” for the 2nd edition of Principles of Molecular Medicine. (Eds. M.S. Runge C. Patterson), Annual Review of Physiology, Section Editor.

Review Panels/Advisory Council

(1983-1987) American Thoracic Society, Research Awards Committee.
(1991-1995) AFLM (French Cystic Fibrosis Foundation) Research Awards Committee.
(1990-1994) National Institutes of Health Program Project Review Committee A.
(1991-1995) Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Research Awards Committee.
(1985-present) Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (USA) Research Awards Committee.
(1993-1996) Cystic Fibrosis Trust (UK) Research/Clinical Trials Review Committee.
Medical Research Council of Canada - Ad Hoc.
(1990-present) Wellcome Trust, Research Awards Reviewer, United Kingdom.
NIH, National Heart, Lung, & Blood Advisory Council, Nov. 2003 – Oct. 31, 2007.
NIH/NHLBI Advisory Councial member, 2003-2008.
Member, UNC Center for Computational and Systems Biology 2009-Present
Organizer, First Chair, Gordon Conference on Cilia Mucus
Chair, Search Committee for Div. Chief of Pulmonary, Critical Care, & Mutational Medicine, UNC-Chapel Hill, 2008-09
Member, External Advisory Council, Clinical Research Program, NIEHS, RTP, NC 2009-preesent.
Chair, Spiromics Bronchoscopy Subcommittee. 2009 – present
Member, UNC General Administration Inovation and Technology Development Progam. 2009-present.
Member, UNC Innovation Faculty Working Group Steering committee, 2010-present


School of Medicine, UNC-CH

(7/98 – 9/2001) Member, UNC School of Medicine, Research Advisory Committee.
(2007-2009) Member, Research Advisory Committee (RAC).
(2007) Member, Chancellor’s Review Committee for School of Medicine Dean’s 5-year review.
(2000-2001) Chairman, Search Committee Meeting for Chair and Professor of Department of Cell & Molecular Physiology at UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine.
(1/96- present) Member, UNC School of Medicine, Dean’s Ad Hoc Group on Future Medical Education.
(5/96- present)Member, UNC School of Medicine, Dean’s Advisory Committee.
(2001- present) Member, Clinical Research Scholar Advisory Committee.
(2001) Chairman, Search Committee Meeting for Chair and Professor of Department of Microbiology Immunology at UNC-Chapel Hill.


(2001- present) Member, Distinguished Chairs Selection Committee.
(2002- present) Member, Advisory Committee, Department of Physics.


(2/98 – present) Member, Scientific Committee on Cystic Fibrosis and Lung Gene Therapy of the American Society of Gene Therapy.
(1/97 - present) Member, Institute for Human Gene Therapy Advisory Board, University of Pennsylvania.
(4/97 – present) Member, The American Society of Gene Therapy, Scientific Committee on “Cystic Fibrosis Lung Diseases.”
(6/15/99-6/14/00) Chairman, Scientific Committee on Cystic Fibrosis and Lung Gene Therapy of the American Society of Gene Therapy.
(2002) Member, NIH Center for Scientific Review Pulmonary Sciences Steering Committee Boundary Team Study Section.


(2003) Chair, Translantic Airway Conference.
Member, Editorial Board, Springer Life Sciences - Biomedical Unit, The Netherlands.

Other Administrative Activities

Co-Director, Gene Therapy Center, UNC-CH.
Co-Director, Division of Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine, Dept. of Medicine, UNC-CH.

Teaching Responsibilities

MED-II Respiratory Course.
Clinical Teachings to Medicine Residents & Students: 6-8 weeks/year.

Laboratory Personnel


Peter F Bove, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Associate


Camille Ehre, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Associate


Yogesh Saini, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Associate


Dongfang Yu, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Associate










Contact Information

7008 Marsico Hall
Chapel Hill, NC 27599
Phone: (919) 966-7064
Fax: (919) 966-5178