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Dr Carol Lang

Telephone +61 8 8222 7410
Position NHMRC Peter Doherty Research Fellow
Fax +61 8 8222 6042
Building QEH - Institute Building
Floor/Room 1
Campus The Queen Elizabeth Hospital
Org Unit Medicine

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Biography/ Background

My career began in 1994 as a technical officer, and later research assistant at the Child Health Research Institute, where I isolated previously unknown growth factors from cheese whey & assessed their impact on epithelial cell growth and wound healing.   The research environment I experienced at the Child Health Research Institute provided me with a firm grounding in many aspects of biomedical research and gave me a perspective on my undergraduate studies that few students experience.    In 1999, I returned to full-time study to complete Honours (for which I received the Michael Smyth Memorial Prize). During my PhD, I successfully managed to combine a long-term interest in animals & comparative environmental physiology (I had majored in Biochemistry & Zoology in my Bachelor of Science degree) with my dawning interest in the respiratory system (resulting from my honours project). Pulmonary surfactant is a mixture of lipids and proteins that is crucial for lung function. Although, the value of comparative research is still often undervalued by biomedical scientists, my PhD research, challenged basic paradigms of surfactant function & could impact the design of therapeutic surfactants in humans. As a postgraduate student, I was determined to gain international experience and created my own opportunities by approaching experts in my field that had techniques & expertise in areas that could broaden & strengthen my research project; initiated & organised 2 international collaborations; was awarded ~$15,000AUS in funding from local & international sources and spent seven months working, relatively independently, on research towards my PhD at the University of Southampton (UK) & the University of British Columbia (Canada). During my time overseas, I grew in confidence as a scientist,and as a result have a good understanding of the worldwide scientific community, experience managing multiple international collaborations and a firm appreciation of the value of collaboration; all skills which I have drawn on continuously through my more recent post-doctoral fellowships. In Feb 2004, I joined a team at Flinders University investigating mechanisms of acute lung injury. This first position as a post-doctoral scientist was not ideal due to my supervisors sudden retirement within a month of my joining the laboratory. However, I did eventually complete lab work and publish two manuscripts from work that was being completed there. Since taking up my more recent training fellowships (ie Australian Lung Foundation/Boehringer Ingelheim Chronic Airflow Limitation Training Fellowship and later my NHMRC Australian Biomedical (Peter Doherty) Postdoctoral Training Fellowship) in the Discipline of Medicine at the University of Adelaide (The Queen Elizabeth Hospital campus), I have been successful in applying for multiple grants to fund small research projects relating to the role zinc in airway inflammation and infection as relates to asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.  Currently I am a chief investigator on a large collaborative TQEH program grant that aims to investigate common mechanisms of chronic inflammation and draws together scientists interested in asthma, COPD, sinusitus, stroke and rheumatological diseases. I have now developed a strong & lasting passion for biomedical research that I hope will continue for many years to come. 


2000–2004. Doctor of Philosophy: BioScience (awarded an Australian Postgraduate Award Scholarship). Department of Environmental Biology, University of Adelaide with time spent at the Department of Zoology, University of British Columbia, Canada and Department of Child Health, University of Southamptom, United Kingdom.

1999. Bachelor of Science Honours degree (1st Class (H1) & Michael Smyth Memorial Prize for 1st in class), Department of Environmental Biology, University of Adelaide.

1994 - 1998. Bachelor of Science degree 2nd & 3rd years were completed part-time whilst working full-time as a research assistant in a laboratory, University of Adelaide.


Awards & Achievements


NHMRC Australian Biomedical (Peter Doherty) Postdoctoral Training Fellowship (2006-10);

Asian Pacific Society of Respirology (APSR) Career Development Award (2006);

Qantas Researcher Travel Support Grant (2006);

Australian Lung Foundation (ALF)/Boehringer Ingelheim Chronic Airway Limitation Research Fellowship (2005/2006).


Australian Federation of University Women Jean Gilmore Bursary ($6000)

Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds Travel Scholarship (6000DM)

University of Adelaide DR Stranks Postgraduate Travelling Fellowship ($1500AUS)

University of Adelaide Research Abroad Scholarship ($1000AUS)

Two Society of Experimental Biology Travel Grants (£750 total)

Student Poster Prize – 11th Hibernation Symposium (2000)

Short-term ARC Grant Funded Scholarship (2003)

Australian Postgraduate Award Scholarship (2000-2003)


Michael Smyth Prize for Honours in Zoology (1999)

Golden Key National Honour Society (1998)

 Book Prize for Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology III (1997)

 Reed Book Prize for Zoology II (1995)

Teaching Interests

I am very passionate about mentoring and encouraging students and young scientists to build successful careers in scientific research.  I currently co-supervise one PhD student who is investigating the role of inhibitors of apoptosis in asthma using cell and animal models as well as clinical samples and have assisted many others in different aspects of their projects.

Teaching Experience: Successfully completed a Course in University Teaching for Effective Student Learning, Centre for Learning and Development, University of Adelaide, May 2005; Practical Demonstrator for Biology I, Biology of Organisms I & Zoology II (2000-2003). Science in the Community:  Assisted in National Science Week (2001, 2002); Mentor to secondary students interested in science as a career (1999-2001); Presentations & informal chats to students in the University of Adelaide Science scholars program (1999-2001); Coordinated a “What do Scientists do” programme presented to year 11 students at Temple Christian College (2000).

Research Interests

Zinc, Zinc Transport Proteins & Airway Inflammation

The dietary metal zinc has well established anti-inflammatory and cell survival-promoting properties.  Many inflammatory disorders including asthma are associated with alterations in the regulation of zinc.  Within cells, zinc levels are controlled by a number of specialised proteins.  Two recently discovered families of proteins collectively known as zinc transporters aid zinc movement across biological membranes.  Zn transporters also compartmentalise zinc within cells,supply the metal to zinc-dependent proteins and interact with cell signalling pathways.  There is now increasing evidence for an involvement of zinc transporter proteins in disease states including breast and prostate cancer, inflammation and infection.  Our studies have shown that specific zinc transport proteins are upregulated in experimental models of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.  Our current research aims to further elucidate the role of specific zinc transport proteins in healthy and inflamed or infected airway cells.  This research has implications for a number of respiratory diseases including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. 

The "Inflammasome" in Chronic Inflammatory Disease

Inflammation is the complex biological response of vascular tissues to harmful stimuli, such as pathogens, damaged cells, or irritants. It is a protective attempt by the organism to remove the injurious stimuli as well as initiate the healing process for the tissue. Inflammation is normally tightly regulated by the body. Dysregulated or prolonged (chronic) inflammation underpins the chronic diseases in which we have expertise and that are prominent in our community i.e. Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease  (COPD), Chronic Rhinosinusitis, Rheumatological diseases and Stroke. Independent of these chronic diseases prolonged inflammation reduces health and longevity and is associated with aging. The persistence of chronic inflammation is in large part due to over-production or inappropriate production of one or more pro-inflammatory cytokines that drive the mobilisation of inflammatory cells to the sites of tissue injury and inflammation, as well as activation of these inflammatory cells to release proteases, oxyradicals and other agents which cause further damage. Proinflammatory cytokines are produced by immune and inflammatory cells at the site of tissue damage as well as by the damaged epithelium, fibroblasts and neighbouring cells. 
Pattern recognition receptors (PRRs), which include toll-like receptors (TLRs) and Nod-like receptors (NLRs), are key components of the innate immune system. These PRRs have evolved as intracellular sensors to detect cytosolic microbial components and extracellular “danger” signals such as ATP and toxins. The caspase-1 (NALP3) inflammasome is part of the NLR family, and we propose that dysregulation or perpetual activation of the inflammasome may play a critical role in driving the process of chronic inflammation. Over the next few years, we aim to develop a range of molecular tools targeting the inflammasome pathway (RNAi, antibodies, caspase inhibitors, P2X7 receptor agonist/antagonists) which will provide an opportunity to further dissect the mechanisms of disease and identify new therapeutic approaches.

Pulmonary Surfactant Function

I have a long-term interest, arising from my PhD studies, in understanding the composition, function and behaviour of pulmonary surfactant (a mixture of lipids and proteins that lines the surface of the lungs and makes breathing possible).  With collaborators at the Samson Institute, University of South Australia, we hope in the future to establish some projects to investigate the behaviour and function of pulmonary surfactant in disease and during physiological stresses, as well as the role zinc plays in regulating the secretion of surfactant into the areas.


Research Funding

1. Prof PJ Wormald*, Assoc Prof S. Koblar, Dr C Lang, Dr S Lester, Dr M Rischmueller, Dr LW Tan, Dr P Zalewski. *Alphabetical order after PJ Wormald. Program Grant, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital Research Foundation. $180,000 pa. 2009-11. Project Title: Inflammatory mechanisms and therapies in chronic disease - asthma, COPD, stroke, cerebrovascular disease, rheumatology diseases and chronic rhinosinusitis. 

2. Lang CJ. Clive and Vera Ramaciotti Foundation Establishment Grant. $27,100. 2007-9. Project Title: Investigating the role of ZIP1 and ZIP14 in airway inflammation and infection. This funding supports specified cell culture and mouse studies to characterize the effect of cigarette smoke induced oxidative stress and respiratory viruses on zinc homeostasis and zinc transporter expression in isolated airway cells

3. Lang CJ. Queen Elizabeth Hospital Research Foundation Research Grant $30,100. 2007-9. Project Title: Investigating the role of ZIP1 and ZIP14 in airway inflammation and infection. Although the general title is the same as above, this funding supports reagents and consumables specifically for the gene silencing and knockout mouse studies. These studies are crucial because they will conclusively demonstrate specific functional links between ZIP1 and ZIP14 zinc transporters and airway inflammatory processes.

4. Lang CJ, Gualano, R. Faculty of Health Science Early Career Research Grant $15,000. June 2006-7. Project Title: The role of zinc in cigarette smoke induced airway inflammation and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.


Lang CJ*, Murgia C*, Leong M, Tan LW, Perozzi G, Knight D, Ruffin RE, Zalewski PD. Anti-inflammatory effects of zinc and alterations in zinc transporter mRNA in mouse models of allergic inflammation. Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Biol (2007) 292(2):L577-585. *equally contributing
Zalewski PD, Truong-Tran A, Lincoln S, Ward D, Shankar A, Coyle P, Jayaram L, Copley A, Grosser D, Murgia C, Lang C, Ruffin, R.  Use of a zinc fluorophore to measure labile pools of zinc in body fluids and cell-conditioned media. Biotechniques (2006) 40(4): 509-520.

Lang CJ, Barnett EK, Doyle IR. Stretch and CO2 modulate the inflammatory response of alveolar macrophages through independent changes in metabolic activity. Cytokine (2006) 33(6): 346-351. 

Lang CJ, Postle AD, Koster G, Orgeig S, Possmayer F, Panda AK, Nag K, Daniels CB. Dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine is not the major surfactant phospholipid species in all mammals. Am J Physiol Reg Integr Comp Physiol (2005) 289(5):R1426-1439. 

Lang CJ, Dong P, Hart P, Doyle IR. The effect of CO2 on LPS-induced cytokine responses in rat alveolar macrophages. Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Biol (2005) 289(1): L96-103.

Ormond CJ, Orgeig S, Daniels CB. The effect of temperature on adrenergic receptors of alveolar type II cells of a heterothermic marsupial. Biochem Biophys Res Commun (2003) 310: 703-709.

Ormond CJ, Orgeig S, Daniels CB, Milsom WK. Thermal acclimation of surfactant secretion & its regulation by adrenergic & cholinergic agonists in type II cells isolated from warm-active & torpid golden-mantled ground squirrels, Spermophilus lateralis. J Exp Biol (2003) 206: 3031-3041.

Ormond CJ, Daniels C, Orgeig S. Neurochemical & thermal control of surfactant secretion by alveolar type II cells isolated from the marsupial, Sminthopsis crassicaudata. J Comp Physiol B 171(3): 223-230 (2001).


Orgeig S, Bernhard, W, Daniels, C, Hall, S, Hetz S, Lang C, Maina J, Panda A, Possmayer F, Perez-Gil J, Veldhuizen R. The anatomy, physics and physiology of gas exchange surfaces: Is there a universal function for pulmonary surfactant in animal respiratory structures? Integrative and Comparative Biology (2007, in press).

Murgia C, Lang CJ, Truong-Tran AQ, Grosser D, Jayaram L, Ruffin RE, Perozzi G, Zalewski PD. Invited Review. Zinc and its specific transporters as potential targets in airway disease. Current Drug Targets (2006) 7(5): 607-627.

Lang CJ, Daniels CB, Orgeig S. (2005). New insights into the thermal dynamics of the surfactant system from warm and cold animals. Chapter 2 in ‘Lung Surfactant Function and Disorder’ in ‘Lung Biology in Health and Disease’ Vol: 201, K. Nag (Ed). Pages: 464-. Marcel Dekker Inc, New York (Publication Date: 17th May 2005; ISBN:0-8247-5792-0).

Professional Associations

Basil Hetzel Institute Early Career Researcher Group 2009-; Basil Hetzel Research Institute Management Committee 2006-8;  Thoracic Society of Australia & New Zealand (TSANZ) 2005-; Asia Pacific Respiratory Society (APSR) 2005-; European Respiratory Society 2005-2007; Australian Geographic Society 1993-2007; University of Adelaide Faculty of Health Sciences Research Career Development Committee 2006-7; Discipline of Medicine Research Committee 2006-7; Chair, Basil Hetzel Seminar Series 2004-; Assessor, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital (TQEH) Research Days 2004-;

Entry last updated: Wednesday, 8 Feb 2017

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