The Eyes Have It-for Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis: a Preliminary Observation.

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The disease origins of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), which occurs at higher rates in certain races/ethnicities, are not understood. The highest rates occur in white persons of European descent, particularly those with light skin, who are also susceptible to lysosomal organelle dysfunction of the skin leading to fibroproliferative disease . We had observed clinically that the vast majority of patients with IPF had light-colored eyes, suggesting a phenotypic characteristic.


We pursued this observation through a research database from the USA Veterans Administration, a population that has a high occurrence of IPF due to predominance of elderly male smokers. Using this medical records database, which included facial photos, we compared the frequency of light (blue, green, hazel) and dark (light brown, brown) eyes among white patients diagnosed with IPF compared with a control group of lung granuloma only (no other radiologic evidence of interstitial lung disease).


Light eye color was significantly more prevalent in patients with IPF than in the control group with lung granuloma [114/147 (77.6%) versus 129/263 (49.0%], p < 0.001), indicating that light-colored eyes are a phenotype associated with IPF .


We provide evidence that light eye color is predominant among white persons with IPF.





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Pleasants, Roy A, Armando D Bedoya, Joel M Boggan, Karen Welty-Wolf and Robert M Tighe (2022). The Eyes Have It-for Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis: a Preliminary Observation. Pulmonary therapy, 8(3). pp. 327–331. 10.1007/s41030-022-00198-5 Retrieved from

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Joel Boggan

Associate Professor of Medicine

I am a hospital medicine physician interested in quality improvement, patient safety, and medical education across the UME, GME, and CME environments. My current QI and research projects include work on readmissions, inpatient ORYX and patient experience measures, clinical documentation improvement, medication reconciliation, and appropriate utilization of inpatient resources. Alongside this work, I serve as the lead mentor for our Durham VA Chief Resident in Quality and Safety within the Department of Medicine and the Program Director for the Duke University Hospital CRQS.

As Associate Program Director for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety in the Duke Internal Medicine Residency Program, I oversee QI and safety education and projects for our residents and help co-lead our Residency Patient Safety and Quality Council. Additionally, I supervise housestaff and students on our general medicine wards, precept housestaff evidence-based medicine resident reports, and serve as a small group leader for our second-year medical student Clinical Skills Course. Finally, I lead our Innovation Sciences committee as part of the ongoing School of Medicine Curriculum Innovation Initiative.


Karen Elizabeth Welty-Wolf

Professor of Medicine

Dr. Welty-Wolf studies (1) pathophysiology and treatment of acute lung injury and (2) multiple organ failure and disordered energy metabolism in sepsis. Injury models include hyperoxic lung injury and ARDS with multiple organ failure due to sepsis. In addition to evaluating mechanisms of lung injury in sepsis, current studies are being conducted to evaluate the potential role of monoclinal antibodies to neutrophil adhesion molecules in the prevention of this injury. Other sepsis work includes evaluating mechanisms of oxidative damage to mitochondria. Additional research efforts include evaluating the use of human recombinant manganese superoxide dismutase in preventing hyperoxic lung injury.

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