About Dr. Zea Borok

The alveolar epithelium lines the distal airspaces of the lungs. It is a key regulator of alveolar homeostasis and an intact alveolar epithelial barrier is critical for normal gas exchange. Furthermore, alterations in alveolar epithelium are central to the pathogenesis of a number of diseases impacting respiratory health including idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and emphysema, making it important to understand mechanisms responsible for its normal maintenance and repair following injury.

Since alveolar epithelial type II (AT2) cells serve as stem/progenitor cells for adult alveolar epithelium, understanding the mechanisms that regulate their self-renewal and transdifferentiation to a type I (AT1) cell phenotype are key to understanding mechanisms of repair following injury, as well as aberrant AEC differentiation and failure of re-epithelialization which appears central to disease pathogenesis (e.g., in IPF).

For our studies, we utilize complementary in vitro and in vivo models including rat, mouse and human AEC in primary culture, lung injury models (e.g., bleomycin, hyperoxia and lipopolysaccharide) and genetically modified rats and mice (including novel cell-specific Cre lines) as well as genome-wide genomic and epigenomic technologies.


  • Western Society for Clinical Investigation: Mayo Soley Award , 2017
  • American Thoracic Society : Elizabeth Rich Award, 2017
  • Association for American Physicians: Elected to Association for American Physicians, 2014
  • American Thoracic Society: Recognition Award for Scientific Accomplishment, 2014
  • NHLBI: Method to Extend Research in Time (MERIT) Award, 2010
  • Western Society for Clinical Investigation: Outstanding Investigator Award, 2007
  • NIH: Clinical Investigator Development Award, 1993