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Emphysema Expert

Today is the birthday of Ines Mandl, a U.S. biochemist who conducted pioneering research on enzymes and elastic tissue that led to advances in the understanding of pulmonary emphysema.

Mandl, who was born in 1917, investigated collagenases--a group of about 20 enzymes that can break down collagen into a soluble form--and was the first to isolate and purify one of the enzymes. As director of the obstetrics/gynecology laboratories of Delafield Hospital (affiliated with Columbia University), Mandl studied respiratory distress and emphysema in newborn babies and identified the role of elastin, an elastic tissue in the lungs. She showed that patients with emphysema had deterioration of elastin, which destroyed their lung tissue. Cigarette smoking, she found, also damaged elastin.

In 1972, Mandl founded the journal Connective Tissue Research.

Source: Benjamin F. Shearer and Barbara S. Shearer, Notable Women in the Physical Sciences: A biographical dictionary (Greenwood Press, 1997).