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Dr. Jeremy Hirota has returned to St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton from UBC to study the impact of pollution on asthma and lung health.

Jeremy originally started working at St. Joe’s as a co-op student in 2002. After completing a thesis project with Dr. Mark Inman, he enrolled in a PhD program at McMaster University. He graduated in 2009 and took his talents to the University of British Columbia where he served as a post-doctoral fellow. In 2015, he was awarded a CIHR New Investigator Award and he received a faculty position at UBC.

“I wanted to see a little bit of the world, and I had a great time in Vancouver,” says Dr. Hirota. “It was a great environment for me to begin my research career.”

At UBC, Dr. Hirota studied with Dr. Chris Carlsten, who serves as the Director of the Air Pollution Exposure Laboratory at the university. This allowed him to conduct his research on pollution and asthma in a controlled environment – analyzing how the cells that line the lungs react to airborne pollutants.

“Every day we breathe in over 10,000 litres of air – and we’re trying to figure out how some of that polluted air impacts your ability to breathe and why it makes some people develop lung diseases,” says Dr. Hirota.

Now, Dr. Hirota has returned to Hamilton as an Assistant Professor at McMaster University and a researcher at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton.

He continues to study the connection between pollution and asthma – uncovering how our lungs respond to airborne pollutants. At St. Joe’s, he’s part of the Firestone Institute for Respiratory Health and works closely with the doctors that see patients – so that he can better understand patients problems and work towards solutions for them.

He’s also collaborating with researchers at SickKids Hospital in Toronto to see if the same mechanisms present at a cellular level in asthma can be translated to cystic fibrosis.

“It feels amazing to be home. My wife’s family and my family are both based in Southern Ontario, and we want our parents to be able to be grandparents.”

We wish Dr. Jeremy Hirota a warm welcome back, and we look forward to seeing his research flourish at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton.

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