Areas of Research

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

COPD is an umbrella term that encompasses emphysema and chronic bronchitis. It is a chronic and progressive limitation of airflow in the lungs caused by inhalation of noxious fumes.  Cigarette smoking is the number one cause. Other factors include occupational dust and chemicals, air pollution and genetic factors. COPD is characterized by shortness of breath, especially with activity, cough and excessive production of mucus, sometimes called phlegm. Diagnosis is made with spirometry and chest X-ray. Currently there is no cure for COPD but researchers are working on medications. Therapy is focused on improving quality of life.


Asthma is a chronic inflammation of the lungs in which the airways or bronchi become narrowed. During an exacerbation the chest wall tightens, the airways become inflamed and swollen and breathing becomes difficult. Asthma is different from COPD in that it is reversible.  The cause of asthma is not known but there is a genetic component. An acute attack can be triggered by environmental factors, animal dander, air pollution, noxious gases, strong odors,  stress, sudden changes in temperature, exercise, respiratory infections, heartburn and certain medications like aspirin. Acute attacks are managed by bronchodilators which open the airways.  Long term therapy usually consists of a long acting bronchodilator and a steroid.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a group of symptoms that affect your colon or large intestine. It can include cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea or constipation. IBS is chronic and can usually be managed by lifestyle, diet and stress but there are a few medications on the market to manage symptoms for the more severe patient. Doctors are unsure of the cause of IBS. Diagnosis is usually by elimination of other problems, there is no definitive test for IBS.


Hypertension is a term used to describe high blood pressure. In adults it is defined as a systolic (the top number)greater than 140 mm Hg or a diastolic (the bottom number) greater than 90 mm Hg. Either or both of these numbers may be high. Hypertension is a major risk factor for coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, stroke, peripheral vascular disease, kidney failure, and retinopathy. Most of the time there are no symptoms but can include: chest pain, confusion, ear noise and buzzing, irregular heartbeat, nose bleeds, tiredness and vision changes.  Treatment begins with lifestyle changes including increasing exercise, decreasing calories and fat in your diet, and achieving and maintaining a sensible weight. If lifestyle changes are not effective, anti-hypertensive medications are added to the regime.

Coronary Artery Disease

Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) is a narrowing of the small blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart. It is also called Coronary Heart Disease. Many patients with CAD may not know they have the disease. When patients experience symptoms with CAD, they report pain, burning or pressure in the chest, called angina. This pain worsens with exertion, emotion, exposure to cold air or eating a large meal.  Risk factors include smoking, diabetes, hypertension, or a family history of CAD. This disease worsens with age and is more common in men than women. Treatment includes altering diet to low fat and low cholesterol, exercise regimes, smoking cessation, medical control of hypertension and diabetes and  sometimes invasive approaches. Invasive management includes coronary angiography, stent placement, atherectomy, and coronary artery bypass surgery.

Overactive Bladder

Overactive bladder is a condition in which there is a strong feeling of urgency or need to urinate. There may be urge incontinence, or the involuntary loss of urine with frequent urinations.

Several factors may contribute to the symptoms of overactive bladder and in many cases doctors can’t exactly identify the cause. It is believed that most symptoms come from involuntary contractions from the muscles of the bladder. These contractions can be caused by neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, strokes or multiple sclerosis. Other conditions to consider include: enlarged prostate, high caffeine or alcohol intake, bladder tumors or stones, urinary tract infections, diabetes.

Treatments for overactive bladder include: behavioral interventions, medications to reduce episodes of urge incontinence, and as a last resort for severe cases, surgery.

Marketed Medications

Our volunteers and study team have played an important role in the development of the following medications:

  • Factive
  • Performist
  • Advair
  • Spectracef
  • Xopenex
  • Symbicort
  • Micardis
  • Xolair
  • Brovana
  • Combivent
  • Spiriva
  • Zenical
  • Breo Ellipta
  • Daliresp
  • Tudorza
  • Combivent Respimat
  • Linzess

Note, this is not all of the research that has been conducted at ECRA since its conception, but simply lists only the investigational products that have made it through the rigid process set forth by the United States Food and Drug Administration and are on the market.