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John Balmes, MD

John Balmes, MD


John Balmes, MD, joined the faculty at University of California, San Francisco in 1986 and is currently professor and division chief of Occupational and Environmental Medicine at San Francisco General Hospital. Dr. Balmes' laboratory, the Human Exposure Laboratory (HEL), has been studying the respiratory health effects of various air pollutants for the past 27 years. Recently, the HEL has focused on the airway inflammatory effects of ozone, secondhand tobacco smoke, and wood smoke.

The HEL was the first group to demonstrate a) histological evidence of ozone-induced airway injury and inflammation in human subjects, b) that asthmatic subjects have greater inflammatory responses to ozone than normal subjects, c) that ozone-induced inflammatory responses in normal subjects attenuate with short-term exposures on consecutive days in the lung, and d) that asthmatic subjects recruit macrophages to the airways with consecutive day exposures. The lab is currently studying the impact of a genetic polymorphism of the antioxidant enzyme, Glutathione-S-transferase M1, on the susceptibility of asthmatic subjects to ozone.