Leopoldo N. Segal, MD, MSc, is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the New York University School of Medicine and the Director of the Lung Microbiome Program at NYU. Dr. Segal has been studying the human microbiome since 2010. He received his initial medical training in Argentina and completed his Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine fellowship and Master in Science at NYU School of Medicine. His laboratory has been at the forefront of exploring lower airway microbiota signatures in health and disease. Although the lungs have long been thought to be sterile, recently developed culture-independent techniques show that the lower airways of healthy individuals commonly harbor microbes. This microbial environment consists of a diverse mixture of bacteria, viruses, and fungi, collectively called the microbiome. After sampling the lower airway by bronchoscopy, Dr. Segal uses next-generation sequencing to define complex microbial communities of commensal lung bacteria.
His research has described how microbes interact with the host immune response, which may lead to inflammatory destruction of lung parenchyma and airway remodeling. Using a translational approach that combines human cohorts and in vivo and ex vivo models, he evaluates the relationships among the lung microbiome, metagenome, metabolome, and host immune responses. Dr. Segal’s discoveries reveal how lower airway dysbiosis, characterized by enrichment with microbes commonly found in the upper airways, is associated with increased lung inflammation. His laboratory’s goal is to identify microbial signatures that are associated with proinflammatory changes in patients with chronic inflammatory airway diseases, HIV, and cancer.