Francesca Polverino, MD, PhD

  • Associate Professor, Medicine (tenure eligible)
  • Associate Research Scientist, Asthma & Airway Disease Research Center, UA Health Sciences

Francesca Polverino, MD, PhD, is an associate professor of medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson and an active member of the UA Health Sciences Asthma and Airway Disease Research Center and BIO5. Her clinical and research interest is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In 2010, after completing her medical degree and doctorate, she moved to Harvard University where she studied the pathobiology and the systemic manifestations of COPD. Dr. Polverino published seminal papers focused on the mechanisms leading to the onset and progression of COPD. She discovered that the B cell Activating Factor, a key molecule involved in autoimmunity, is overexpressed in COPD patients' lungs and contributes to the formation of lymphoid follicles (AJRCCM 2010, 2015, and 2019). She has also identified two molecules which are expressed in the lung and are protective against cigarette smoke-induced lung damage and COPD: Club Cell Protein 16 (CC16, European Respiratory Journal 2015), and A-Disintegrin and A Metalloproteinase Domain 8 (AJRCCM 2018), and has described the first non-human primate model of COPD (American Journal of Pathology 2015). From a clinical standpoint, Dr. Polverino reported for the first time that patients with COPD also suffer extensive kidney damage (AJRCCM 2017). Dr. Polverino’s research interest is also focused on the understanding of pre- and peri-natal factors that determine lung function limitation early in life (early COPD). In 2017, Dr. Polverino became an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Polverino joined the faculty at University of Arizona in August 2018. She has been awarded several prestigious international recognitions, including the Parker B. Francis Fellowship (2016), the Rising Star of Research Award from the American Thoracic Society (2018), and the Medal of Honor for Scientific Merits from the President of Italian Republic.

  • PhD (Pulmonary): University of Parma, Parma, Italy, 2017
  • MD: Seconda Università di Napoli, Napoli, Italy, 2006
Honors and Awards
  • Rising Star of Research Award, American Thoracic Society, 2018
  • Parker B. Francis Fellowship, Francis Family Foundation, 2016
  • Outstanding Italian Investigator Award, AIMAR (Associazione Italiana Malattie Respiratorie/Interdisciplinary Association for Research in Lung Disease) – Lung Conference on Respiratory Diseases, 2014
  • Lung Science – Travel Grant, European Respiratory Society, 2011
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Award, American College of Chest Physicians, 2009
  • Research Travel Award – Best Abstract, National Emphysema Foundation, American Thoracic Society, 2009
  • Respiratory Diseases, Policlinico di Messina, Messina, Italy, 2007-11
  • Research Fellow (Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine): Brigham and Women Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, 2013-15
  • Research Fellow (Anesthesiology): Brigham and Women Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, 2011-13
  • Research Fellow (Pulmonology): Hospital Universitario Son Dureta, Mallorca, Spain, 2009-11
  • Research Fellow (Pulmonology): University of Padova, Padova, Italy, 2007-09