Ciara Shaver, MD, PhD


Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Allergy, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine

Research Description

Dr. Ciara Shaver is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in the Division of Allergy, Pulmonary, and Critical Care Medicine. Her growing basic and translational research program centers on mechanisms of acute lung injury with an emphasis on inflammation during critical illness and after lung transplantation. Several years ago, we discovered that elevated levels of cell-free hemoglobin were present in the airspace during ARDS and in the circulation prior to lung transplantation. Current research in my laboratory is focused on discovery of the pathways and cell types required for cell-free hemoglobin induced lung injury using a variety of in vitro and in vivo model systems. A second focus of my research is the mechanisms of primary graft dysfunction after lung transplantation. We recently discovered that circulating levels of cell-free hemoglobin prior to lung transplant are independently associated with increased risk of primary graft dysfunction. Using an ex vivo human lung perfusion model, we demonstrated that hemoglobin directly injures the lung endothelium and identified a potential therapy that may mitigate hemoglobin-mediated lung injury. In the future, my laboratory will continue to use murine and human lung model systems to comprehensively explore the underlying mechanisms of ARDS and primary graft dysfunction. I also manage a biorepository including explanted human lungs, declined human donor lungs, and serial bronchoalveolar lavage, blood, and biopsy samples from lung transplant recipients to facilitate detailed basic and translational studies in a variety of acute and chronic lung illnesses.
Brief Description
Dr. Ciara Shaver's primary clinical interest is in lung transplantation with a particular focus on the early postoperative events that predict long-term outcomes. Her research interests include mechanisms of acute lung injury and the acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Her scientific approach combines data from multiple animal models of acute lung injury with data from patients with ARDS. Currently, Dr. Shaver's primary focus is to understand the inflammatory consequences of extracellular hemoglobin in the airspace. Dr. Shaver received the Elliot V. Newman Prize for the best oral presentation in 2014 and the award for best basic science poster at the Vanderbilt Research Forum in 2015. She also received two subsequent scholarships to attend the American Thoracic Society International Conference for her superior abstracts. In 2015, Dr. Shaver was awarded a Vanderbilt Faculty Research Scholars Award to support continuing development toward independence as a physician-scientist. She is excited to continue pursuing both basic science and translational studies with clear clinical applications. Her husband, Aaron, is a hematopathologist at Vanderbilt.


MD - Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, 2007
PhD - Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, 2005
BA - Biochemistry and Biology, Rice University, Houston, Texas

Clinical interest

Dr. Shaver subspecializes in the care of lung transplant recipients and patients with end stage lung disease who are seeking lung transplantation.