Dr. Brent McParland believes the key to improving care for asthma lies in understanding the underlying mechanisms that cause airway narrowing. In asthma, the airways narrow too much and too easily when exposed to stimuli such as pollens and cat hair. The amount of airway smooth muscle (ASM) is increased in people with asthma, which should mean that asthmatic airways develop more force than non-asthmatic airways. Yet studies have not shown more force in asthmatic airways, as might be expected with more muscle. However, these studies did not assess the ability of the muscle to shorten, which causes the airway to narrow. Dr. McParland is developing a method of obtaining very small airway tissue samples from lung surgeries for use in measuring smooth muscle shortening. He will use the method to compare the airway smooth muscle in normal and asthmatic tissues. This research could result in a better understanding of the nature of exaggerated airway narrowing in asthma.