Morty Lab

Morty Lab

Structure and Development of the Alveolus

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Principal Investigator:

Dr. Rory E. Morty

Dr. Rory E. Morty is appointed as a full-time research scientist in the Department of Lung Development and Remodelling at the Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research in Bad Nauheim, where he serves as Principal Investigator, leading the research group “Structure and Development of the Alveolus”. Dr. Morty is jointly appointed to the Department of Internal Medicine (Pulmonology) at the University of Giessen School of Medicine and the teaching hospital of the University Hospital Giessen and Marburg. 

Dr. Morty was born in South Africa, where he completed his undergraduate and post-graduate tertiary training. This was followed by a four-year post-doctoral stay at Yale University School of Medicine. Dr. Morty joined the Faculty of the University of Giessen School of Medicine and the teaching hospital of the University Clinic Giessen and Marburg in 2002, and the Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research in 2010. Dr. Morty serves as Editor-in-Chief of the American Journal of Physiology (since 2012), Pharmacology & Therapeutics (from 2015-2019), and of PLoS ONE (since 2007), and also serves on the Editorial Board of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine (since 2009), the American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology (since 2012), and Physiological Reports (since 2014). In addition, Dr. Morty serves as Programme Director of the International Graduate Programme “Molecular Biology and Medicine of the Lung” of the University of Giessen School of Medicine, and as Coordinator of the University of Giessen and Marburg Lung Center School. Dr. Morty has been also appointed as Research Director of the European Respiratory Society for the term 2016-2019. Some of Dr. Morty’s research interests are detailed below, and are also described in the Max-Planck Society Yearbook 2011.

The Morty Laboratory has two major research themes, both of which relate directly to adult and neonatal critical care medicine.

1. Understanding lung development in preterm babies with bronchopulmonary dysplasia

Preterm birth is a very important clinical problem in our society today, and in every neonatal intensive care unit. The development of the lung is dangerously impacted when infants are born prematurely. These infants are ventilated to support life. However, this ventilation process is very damaging to the lung and can cause a disease called bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD).

In infants with bronchopulmonary dysplasia, the development of the alveoli – the principal gas exchange units of the lung – is compromised, with consequences that extend into adulthood. Members of the Morty Laboratory are currently exploring what goes wrong, when premature infants are ventilated and develop BPD, with the aim to develop new ways to clinically manage this complex and important clinical problem encountered in the neonatal intensive care unit.

2. Understanding life-threatening pulmonary oedema

Adult patients with acute respiratory failure due to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) have defective ion and fluid transport, leading to pulmonary oedema, and death. This syndrome is responsible for a high proportion of patient deaths in the adult intensive care unit.

Members of the Morty Laboratory investigate the mechanisms of how ions and water are normally transported into and out of the lung, and what happens when these mechanisms fail in patients with pulmonary oedema. The studies are aiming to obtain a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying the development of ARDS, and so establish better management strategies for patients with this devastating syndrome.

Current members of the Morty Group

Post-doctoral fellow:
Dr. med. Katrin Ahlbrecht

Doctoral Students:
Francesco Palumbo

Francisco Casado

Misa Gunjak

David Perez Bravo

Ettore Lignelli

Solmaz Khaghani

Reshma Jamal

Despina Myti

Medical Student:
Sven Willen

Technical Assistant:
Diana Fuchs

Elisabeth Kappes

Lab Assistant:
Daniel Grella

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