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Professor of Biochemistry & Biophysics
Joint appointments with UNC Medicine and BME
PhD – University of Texas Medical Branch



Mucus biophysical properties, role of the Pericilliary Layer (PCL), and mechanisms of mucociliary clearance in the airways


My research has largely focuses on understanding various biochemical and biophysical aspects of the airway mucus clearance system in health and disease. The airway clearance system, the primary innate immune system of the lung, is designed to remove virtually all of the pathogenic particles deposited on the lung surface during normal breathing. It is a multifaceted system in which many aspects of its regulation remain either unknown or poorly understood. The major focus of my lab is to understand the biophysics of the polymer mucus layer, its physical interaction with the underlying epithelial layer, and why lung diseases such as cystic fibrosis (CF) and chronic bronchitis (CB) result in a failure of mucus clearance.

Overall, my ongoing research can be broken down into the following four distinct topics: 1) Role of extracellular nucleotide signal transduction on regulation of epithelial ion transport and airway surface biophysical properties, 2) biochemical identification and function of membrane-bound polymers on the airway epithelial surface and their role in lung defense, 3) understanding the nature of the biophysical interactions of the superficial mucus layer and the underlying epithelial surface in health and disease, and 4) elucidating the mechanisms of mucus clearance by cilia beating and high-velocity airflow (i.e. coughing).


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Lab Contact

Lab Room: 6017 Thurston-Bowles Bldg

Phone: 919-966-8073

Brian M Button
  • Phone Number

    919-966-8073 (Office Phone)

  • Address

    Marsico Lung Institute, UNC Cystic Fibrosis Center

    6017 Thurston-Bowles Bldg.

    CB# 7248

    Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7248