Improving Delivery of Aerosolized Medications

Translational Health

We can live for a few days without water and food, but breathing is a moment-by-moment requirement for life. In an emergency, seconds matter. For millions of people around the world, that next easy breath is always slightly out of reach and becomes a struggle that causes pain, discomfort and distraction from the rest of life. According to the World Health Organization, 235 million people worldwide live with asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) results in nearly 3 million deaths annually, an estimated 6 percent of all yearly deaths. Chronic respiratory diseases are incurable, but there are treatments that can improve health and decrease mortality. Aerosolized medications such as bronchodilators help improve patients’ breathing and can literally save lives. Dr. Arzu Ari, professor in the Department of Respiratory Care at Texas State University, is on the front lines of discovering ways to improve delivery of these medications and make them more effective in the treatment of patients with COPD, occupational lung diseases, and pulmonary hypertension.  Ari has dedicated her career to helping patients breathe easier.

Dr. Arzu Ari headshot
Dr. Arzu Ari - College of Health Professions - Department of Respiratory Care

 Ari’s research has generated

75 abstracts, 63 peer-reviewed articles, 14 book chapters,

2 clinical practice guidelines and 2 books.

child with an inhaler

 A physical therapist and a respiratory therapist by training, Ari has 25 years of experience as a manager, clinician, educator and researcher and is a recipient of the Mitchell Baran Achievement Award for Clinical Excellence in Respiratory Care. Her specialization is in aerosol medicine, which is the science and practice of aerosol drug delivery to patients’ lungs with inhalers or nebulizers to treat pulmonary diseases. Her research is tied to four developments in the practice of aerosol drug delivery: helping clinicians understand current practices of therapy; identifying the best practices of aerosol drug delivery not only in spontaneously breathing patients but also in the critical care environment; evaluating the performance of aerosol delivery devices to optimize drug delivery in patients with respiratory disorders; and generating new concepts and methods that optimize aerosol drug administration to adults, children, infants and newborns. With her research being translated into clinical practice and patient care, Ari says, she is proud to be making a difference in the lives of patients around the world with pulmonary diseases.

Her research laboratory is one of only a few in the world that can bring together the pharmaceutical, aerosol therapeutics, and respiratory care talent with the infrastructure needed to support innovative research, build consensus and make strides in the field.  Ari says, “I am thankful for my position at Texas State that affords the facilities and finances to continue my groundbreaking research in the field of aerosol medicine. Working at Texas State University has offered me an opportunity to work at a place that has world-class science and research programs. With the goal of doing research and helping to move science to the clinic, Texas State University is a great place to work.”

With the goal of clinical excellence, innovation, collaboration and discovery, Ari’s research has a transformational impact in aerosol medicine. Ari’s research accomplishments have positioned her as a global leader in her field: She has published in vitro research on aerosol drug delivery to simulated premature babies, infants and pediatrics using high-flow nasal cannula devices — small tubes inserted directly into the nostrils — which show a dramatic improvement in drug delivery for young patients who may be unable to use an inhaler or wear a face mask. According to a recent survey among American pediatric respiratory therapists, 75 percent of respondents delivered aerosolized medications via high flow nasal cannula. Ari has presented her research across the United States in Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, California, Kansas, Missouri, Alabama, Louisiana and Florida, and internationally in China, Brazil, Turkey, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan and Switzerland. As an active scholar, she has an excellent track record of scholarship through her collaborations with researchers from the U.K., Belgium, Israel, Brazil, Taiwan, Denmark, Turkey, the U.S. and Canada.

In addition to being a world-renowned scholar, Ari is a passionate teacher, viewing herself as not just an instructor who simply provides students with information, but as an educator who engages students and fosters their ability to think critically and creatively while expressing their own ideas. She has been a mentor on 18 papers published in major journals by her students.  In her own words: “I try to instill in my students an interest and passion for research so that upon graduation, they will be able to market themselves as skilled researchers. I see teaching as an integral part of the profession. I want my students to succeed in their programs and in their professions after.”

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