We are identifying new, critical biology underlying airway diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other fibrotic lung diseases.  To do this, we have built a platform, which leverages a model system, Dictyostelium discoideum, to identify relevant genes  for protecting cells from toxins, such as cigarette smoke.  We find that these genes are also protective in primary human airway epithelial cells and protect several key functions such as airway surface hydration and ciliary function.  The unexpected biology that we have uncovered is paving the way for small molecule screens, which we hope will facilitate the discovery of new therapeutic strategies for these currently uncurable lung diseases.