Skip to main content

Director's Message

GR Scott Budinger, MD


Scott Budinger, MD
Director, SQLIFTS
Chief of Pulmonary & Critical Care in the Department of Medicine
Ernest S. Bazley Professor of Airway Diseases

The Impact of Lung Disease

Lung diseases are among the most common causes of death worldwide. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, pneumonia was the most common cause of death from an infectious disease. Briefly eclipsed by COVID-19, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) will likely again become the third leading cause of death in the U.S. Deaths from lung cancer outnumber all other forms of cancer combined.

Unlike other common causes of death, the rates of death from lung disease have dramatically increased in the past decades. Unfortunately, this trend is likely to continue. The lung is directly exposed to the environment and, therefore, particularly vulnerable to the impacts of population expansion, climate change, socioeconomic displacements and novel pathogens like SARS-CoV-2.

The impact of lung disease on quality of life is profound. The most distressing symptom is the inability to breathe. Less recognized are the impacts of lung diseases on other organs, accelerating the development of age-related diseases including dementia, skeletal muscle dysfunction, renal failure and cardiovascular disease.

The Mission of Simpson Querrey Lung Institute for Translational Science at Northwestern

The Simpson Querrey Lung Institute for Translational Science (SQLIFTS) will facilitate translational research using a bedside-to-bench-to-bedside approach that advances knowledge and identifies new therapies for patients with lung disease in Chicagoland and worldwide. The institute's discoveries and technologies will also be applicable to a range of other diseases.

SQLIFTS has pioneered the application of multi-omic technologies to patients with lung disease at Northwestern Medicine through a synergistic partnership with the Canning Thoracic Institute at Northwestern Medicine. By expanding sample collection and multidimensional data generation, we will inform causal experiments in our laboratories and direct drug development. Advancements in data science and artificial intelligence will create molecular models that can be used by industry partners to inform clinical trials for lung disease.

Collaborate with us; we welcome partners who are interested in developing projects or testing novel interventions for patients with lung disease. Our collaborations already include more than 20 schools, departments and institutes across Northwestern as well as collaborations with Northwestern’s Innovation and New Ventures Office (INVO) and with industry.

Follow SQLIFTS on