Petrache Lab

Irina Petrache, MD

Principal Investigator, Chief of the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine

Education and Training

  • 1982 – 1986, Dr. I. Mesota Lyceum, Brasov, Romania. Major: Mathematics and Physics. Degree: Baccalaureate          
  • 1986 – 1992, Carol Davila University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Bucharest, Romania. Degree: Doctor of Medicine, MD
  • 1993 – 1996, Saint Luke’s Medical Center (since, residency program transferred to Saint Vincent Medical Center), Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH.
Internship and Residency in Internal Medicine
  • 1996 – 2000, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Research and Clinical Fellowship in Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine, Research


Dr. Irina Petrache is chief of the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine and associate vice president of faculty development at National Jewish Health, Denver, Colorado, where she is professor of medicine who holds the Wollowick Endowed Chair in COPD Research. She is also professor of medicine at the University of Colorado, where she co-directs the T32 Training Program in Pulmonary Sciences.

Dr. Petrache received several awards for her academic activities, including the Elizabeth Rich Award; The Golden Lung Award for excellence in teaching; Harrington Scholar-Innovator Award; Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis Chancellor’s Prestigious External Award Recognition and the Research Frontiers Trailblazer Award.

Dr. Petrache held faculty positions as assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University and associate professor and then tenured professor of medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine, where she served as Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Medicine.

The Petrache laboratory at National Jewish Health is focused on the pathogenesis of emphysema and pulmonary vascular remodeling in COPD, as well as distal lung injury and repair in response to vaping, cigarette smoking, and acute viral infections. 

Joanna Poczobutt, PhD

Research Instructor


University of Gdansk (Poland), MS
University of Colorado, Aschutz Medical Campus, PhD


I joined Dr. Petrache lab in 2019. As a research instructor, I coordinate multiple projects, with particular focus on the role of sphingolipid pathway in development of lung injury and lung diseases caused by cigarette smoke exposure, such as COPD.

Matthew Justice, PhD

Senior Researcher, Lab Manager


2006, Indiana University, Bachelor of Science, Physics
2009, Purdue University, Master of Science, Physics
2013, Indiana University, Master of Science, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
2017, Indiana University, PhD, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology


I am a sphingolipid biologist/biochemist interested in how sphingolipid metabolism goes awry in disease. During my Physics degrees, I studied how the incorporation of ceramide into a membrane, changes membrane-membrane interactions during efferocytosis. During my biochemistry & molecular biology degrees, I studied the role of acid sphingomyelinase in autophagy. Currently, I am investigating the role of tetraspanins in emphysema.