Dean Sheppard is a physician-scientist who studies a family of proteins called integrins. Integrins are central organizers of cell signaling machines and play critical roles in cellular responses to mechanical force and in the transmission of mechanical force from cells to the proteins that surround them. His laboratory discovered that a subset of integrins transmit contractile cell force to activate the cytokine, transforming growth factor beta (TGFbeta), which itself plays important roles in tissue fibrosis and in regulating inflammation and immunity. Loss of each TGFbeta activating integrin, or inhibition by antibodies and small molecule inhibitors his lab developed, are protective in models of tissue fibrosis, acute lung injury, allergic asthma and multiple sclerosis. He has also shown that force transmitted by integrins in airway smooth muscle is required for exaggerated airway narrowing in models of asthma.This body of work directly led to one drug now in clinical trials and 4 others in various phases of clinical development.