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Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer CenterVanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center


Thomas M. Harris, Ph.D.

Orrin Henry Ingram Distinguished Prof of Engineering
Chair, Biomedical Engineering & Computing
Professor of Biomedical Engineering

Contact Information:

Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Box 1724 Sta B
Nashville, TN 37232

Research Specialty

Transport of fluid and solutes in the lung microcirculation

Research Description

This research is concentrated on the quantitative physiology of the exchange of fluids and solutes in the capillaries of the lung. We seek to understand the basic biophysical mechanisms by which the exchange functions of the lung are regulated, how injury affects these functions and how diseases which lead to lung vascular injury should be treated. Our scientific goals are the establishment of a precise mathematical description of lung vascular fluid mechanics, diffusion and exchange in normal and abnormal situations. Our medical goals are to improve the diagnosis and treatment of lung vascular diseases especially Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome. Our engineering goals are the development of minimally invasive instruments and methods to evaluate lung vascular function and fluid balance in patients. We perform experiments on isolated endothelial cell systems, isolated perfused lungs and intact animals. In addition, there is collaboration with clinical investigators in studies on patients. Lung vascular transport is measured with radioisotopes, the surgical cannulation and collection of lung lymph, infrared spectroscopy, gamma scanning and magnetic resonance imaging. The computer is prominent in our work, and we are engaged in several studies involving mathematical simulation of lung function and the use of scientific visualization methods to guide advanced computer analysis of the lung.

Current Projects Include:

(1) The control of functioning capillary surface area in the lung.

(2) The analysis of heterogeneous perfusion in the lung.

(3) Optical densitometry as an instrument for on-line evaluation of indicator dilution curves in animals and patients.

(4) Development of a computerized system for the simulation of lung fluid balance and solute exchange.

(5) Development of minimally invasive instrumentation for measuring lung vascular function.