The challenge: According to Health Canada, more than 700,000 Canadians have been diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Thousands more have the disease, but have not been diagnosed. There is currently no cure for COPD.
The work: Dr. Hogg’s early work with the late Dr. Peter Macklem at the Meakins Christie laboratories at McGill University established the small airway in the lung to be the obstruction site in COPD. This work has led to the current concept that this airway is a silent zone where the disease can accumulate over many years, unnoticed by COPD sufferers or their physicians. Dr. Hogg, along with his colleague Dr. Peter Pare, led the establishment of the University of British Columbia Pulmonary Research Laboratory at St. Paul’s Hospital, which now houses more than 200 staff, post graduate, graduate and undergraduate students. His work also led to a collaborative study with Dr. Avrum Spira of Boston University, uncovering a gene expression signature for the emphysematous destruction of the lung in COPD. This research also suggests that the gene expression could be reversed by a small tripeptide found in human blood, paving the way for a potential cure.
Why it matters: Dr. Hogg's research, achieved over a 40 year career, continues to have a fundamental impact on the medical community's knowledge of the pathogenesis, diagnosis and treatment of COPD. Recent results suggest a new direction which could lead to a treatment capable of reversing emphysematous destruction of lung tissue in COPD. Moreover his work stresses the importance of finding a way to diagnose COPD before symptoms appear, allowing for potential prevention of the disease. In addition to his own work, Dr. Hogg has made major contributions to building the Canadian research community locally and nationally. He has also made international contributions in the evaluation of research.
Dr. Hogg completed his medical degree at the University of Manitoba in 1962, his master's degree in experimental medicine from McGill University in 1967, and his Ph.D. in experimental medicine from McGill University in 1969. Throughout his career, Dr. Hogg's research has remained focused on the mechanisms and anatomical sites of obstructive lung disease. Dr. Hogg's research has advanced the knowledge of how the lung works in health and disease, including the pathophysiology of asthma and the harmful effects of smoking and pollution. In 1977, Dr. Hogg was recruited to the University of British Columbia and St. Paul's Hospital, where he built a world-renowned centre for pulmonary and cardiovascular research, which grew from one trainee each year to approximately 100 each year. This laboratory is currently named The University of British Columbia James Hogg Research Centre for Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Research in his honour. An Officer of the Order of Canada (2005), Dr. Hogg was elected to the Royal Society of Canada (1992) and Canadian Medical Hall of Fame (2010) and has been recognized with an array of scientific awards. In 2003, he was the recipient of the American Society for Investigative Pathology Chugai Award and has been honoured by the American Thoracic Society on several occasions. Dr. Hogg's career work in pathology, pulmonary physiology and molecular biology has leveraged over 40 years of contributions to the world's understanding of lung disease. He has arguably had a greater influence on the medical community's knowledge of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and asthma than any other individual worldwide.