Erik Swenson

Professor, Medicine and Physiology and Biophysics


Faculty Web Page

Last Updated:  September 23, 2010


Research Focus

My laboratory focuses on the physiology and pathophysiology of carbon dioxide, oxygen, and nitric oxide as they relate to gas exchange, ventilation-perfusion matching, control of ventilation, exercise tolerance, and vascular and airway regulation in a variety of situations ranging from humans at high altitude to fish in hypoxic/acidic waters. These studies often involve field work in mountain and marine environments. My work in lung injury models is centered on therapies that augment endogenous nitric oxide formation and antioxidant defenses and reduce inflammation. Examples include erythropoietin, nitrite, and inhaled carbon dioxide (therapeutic hypercapnia). With a longstanding interest in carbonic anhydrase, I have explored the enzyme’s role in numerous organ systems reflecting my interest in the study of the whole organism and interactions between organ systems.

Relevant Publications (from over 150)

Swenson ER, Robertson HT, Hlastala MP. Effects of carbonic anhydrase inhibition on ventilation-perfusion matching in the dog lung. J. Clin Invest. 92:702-709, 1993.

Swenson ER, Robertson HT, Hlastala MP. Effects of inspired CO2 on V/Q-matching in normoxia, hypoxia and hyperoxia. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 149:1563-1569, 1994.

Swenson ER, Duncan T, Ahmad S, Ramirez G, Schoene RB. The diuretic effect of hypoxia in humans and its relationship to the hypoxic ventilatory response. J Appl Physiol 78:377-383, 1995.

Deem S, Alberts M, Hedges R, Swenson ER. Red cells and hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction: Hematocrit dependence and importance of nitric oxide. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 157:1181-1186, 1998.

Swenson ER, Gibbs JS, Maggiorini M, Mongovin S, Mairbaurl H, Schwobel F, Bartsch P. Pathogenesis of high altitude pulmonary edema: Inflammation is not a pathogenetic factor. J Am Med Assoc. 287:2228-2235, 2002.

Hoehne C, Krebs MO, Boehmke W, Seiferheld M, Kaczmarczyk G, Swenson ER. Acetazolamide prevents hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction in conscious dogs. J Appl Physiol. 97:515-521, 2004.

Swenson KE, Eveland R, Gladwin MT, Swenson ER. Nitric oxide (NO) in normal and hypoxic vascular regulation of the spiny dogfish, Squalus acanthias. J Exp Zoology 303:154-60, 2005.

Kregenow DA, Rubenfeld G, Hudson LD, Swenson ER. Hypercapnic acidosis and mortality in acute lung injury.  Crit Care Med 34:1-7, 2006.

Shimoda L, Sylvester JT, Swenson ER. Inhibition of hypoxia-induced Ca++ responses in PA smooth arterial cells by acetazolamide is independent of carbonic anhydrase inhibition. Am J Physiol 292:L1002-12, 2007.

Emery MJ, Eveland R, Eveland K, Couetil L, Hildebrandt J, Swenson ER. Lung volume reduction by bronchoscopic administration of steam. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2010 (in press).

Active Funding

Funding Source

Project Title

Investigator Role

Funding Dates

VA Merit Review

Cytoprotection by Erythropoietin in lung injuries



Private Foundation

Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors in treatment of pulmonary hypertension



Current Mentees




Tyler Albert


Linkage of hypoxic ventilatory responsiveness and hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction in humans

Samuel Ash


Non-invasive assessment of carboxyhemoglobin and total hemoglobin in critically ill bleeding and/or transfused patients

Edward Dyer


Therapeutic effects of nitrite and erythropoietin in lung injury

Rachel Zarndt


Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors as vasodilators in hypoxic and non-hypoxic pulmonary hypertension

Past Mentees



Current title


Andrew Luks


Assistant Professor of Medicine

University of Washington, Seattle, WA

Philippe Pickerodt


Resident in Anesthesiology

University of Berlin, Germany

Steven Deem


Associate Professor of Anesthesiology and Medicine

University of Washington, Seattle, WA

David Kregenow


Staff Physician, Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine

Virginia Mason Medical Center and University of Washington, Seattle, WA

Michael Emery


Research Associate

VA Medical Center, Seattle, WA

Thomas Brogan


Associate Professor of Pediatrics

University of Washington, Seattle, WA

David J. Vaughn


Consultant Pediatrician

Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, Ireland

John Berg


Assistant Professor of Physiology

University of Manila, Phillipines

Jin-Hye Min


Professor of Anesthesiology

University of Kwangdong, Korea

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