Prof Ratko Djukanovic, respiratory and critical care theme lead

Ratko DjukanovicA respiratory consultant and researcher with a focus on asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), Ratko Djukanovic directs the Southampton Centre for Biomedical Research and leads our respiratory and critical care research.

Email: R.djukanovic@soton.ac.uk

Enabling Southampton's respiratory research

Professor Djukanovic is leading efforts to address key unmet needs in lung diseases across the life-course, including severe asthma, COPD, bacterial resistance, critical care and identifying biological markers of disease for personalised medicine.

Focus on asthma and chronic lung conditions

Professor Djukanovic's personal research focus is on bringing new therapies for asthma and COPD into the clinic through better understanding of disease mechanisms, identification of new targets and development in the laboratory.

Three key activities

Professor Djukanovic’s team is focusing on three areas:

  • Discovery of new drug targets and their in vitro (laboratory based) testing using lung samples donated by patients and healthy volunteers.
  • Identification of biological markers of asthma and COPD drawing on Southampton’s world-leading resources in lipidomics and proteomics (large-scale, rapid analysis of fats and proteins).
  • Development of interferon beta, a molecule that influences the immune system, as a treatment of exacerbations of asthma and COPD caused by respiratory viruses.

Accurate understanding of disease biology

Professor Djukanovic’s own research depends on accurate identification of molecules within samples for potential targeting with treatments, through the state-of-the-art facilities and expertise of the University of Southampton Institute for Applied Mass Spectrometry.

This includes machines that serve the proteomics and lipidomics research projects in the unit, based in Southampton General Hospital and on the University's Highfield campus (for example chemistry and IfLS).

Extensive collaborations

Professor Djukanovic has many successful collaborations with academic institutions and the pharmaceutical industry, exemplified by UBIOPRED. This EU-funded severe asthma programme brings together 25 academic institutions and ten pharmaceutical companies across Europe to better characterise asthma and identify new treatment methods.

In the UK, heco-leads a project looking to improve understanding and treatment of virus induced inflammation in COPD through the Medical Research Council and Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry COPD consortium. He was recently elected chair of the steering group of the UK Translational Research Partnership, a consortium of nine UK centres of respiratory research excellence working with industry to help drug development.

Career

Professor Djukanovic trained in medicine in Geneva, Switzerland, and Belgrade, Serbia. In the early 90s he completed his doctorate in Southampton. Here he pioneered the use of bronchoscopy in asthma research and led key studies that described the airways pathology in asthma, also showing for the first time how some established and new drugs exert their anti-inflammatory effects. In his previous role, he was director of the NIHR Southampton Respiratory Biomedical Research Unit.