Thomas H. Shaffer, MS.E., Ph.D.

Research Interests

Pulmonary compromise is one of the most predominant causes of death in the pediatric and neonatal populations.  Our research is translational and covers the full spectrum of pulmonary research by examining the causes of and remedies for pulmonary disease from the laboratory bench top to the application of new therapies at the patients’ bedsides.  The Nemours Pediatric Lung Center extends its research program to include clinicians from the Departments of Allergy, Anesthesiology, Cardiology, Orthopedics, Pulmonology, Emergency Medicine, Critical Care Medicine, Genetics, Respiratory Care, Pediatrics, and Neonatology.  We cross Nemours’ campuses to include physicians and researchers from both the Wilmington and Florida sites in our research efforts.

The Director of the Center for Pediatric Lung Research, Thomas H. Shaffer, MS.E., Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Physiology and Pediatrics.  He also holds the position of Professor of Pediatrics at Thomas Jefferson Medical College.  Dr. Shaffer received his doctorate from Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He did postdoctoral work at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine where he was promoted to Assistant Professor of Physiology and Medicine.  He was recruited as an Associate Professor at Temple University School of Medicine in 1977.  Dr. Shaffer has 38 years of experience as an active scientist in pulmonary research with special attention to the needs of the neonatal and pediatric populations.  Dr. Shaffer’s revolutionary work with treatments for respiratory distress syndrome is known world-wide, and he is considered an international expert in this field.  In addition, he is renown for his work in developmental airway physiology and clinical pulmonary function evaluation in neonates.

Dr. Shaffer’s contribution to the literature has been significant.  He has published 75 book chapters, 232 peer-reviewed manuscripts (with another 20 in review or in press), and 489 abstracts.  His clinical manuscripts have been published in Lancet, The New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of Pediatrics, Pediatrics, Critical Care Medicine and many more highly respected and well-read periodicals.  In addition, he has published basic science manuscripts in the Journal of Applied Physiology, the American Journal of Physiology, and the American Journal of Circulatory Research.  He serves on the Editorial Boards of three scientific journals and is a journal reviewer for another 22 publications.

In his faculty role at the Temple University School of Medicine and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Dr. Shaffer has mentored 43 graduate students and 55 post-doctoral Fellows during the past 38 years.  Many of these former students now hold faculty positions in prestigious medical schools at the University of Pennsylvania, Stanford University, Columbia University, the University of California at Davis, SUNY in Buffalo, New York, the Temple University School of Medicine, Bowman Gray, and the University of Washington.

Since 1974, Professor Shaffer has been continuously supported by NIH grants (22) and academic, corporate and private institutional awards (48 total).  His early NIH grants were awarded during a period when corporate sponsors were not readily supporting work in his area of interest, and the resultant science acted as a catalyst for procuring many other grants from the private and corporate sectors.  The excellence of his corporate-sponsored research has resulted in 12 licensed patents.   In September, 2004, Dr. Shaffer was awarded a  $10.2 million Center for Biomedical Research Excellent (COBRE) grant from the National Institutes of Health for the development of a Center for Pediatric Research (CPR) at the Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware. In addition, as part of the ARRA program, he was awarded a $1.6 million in supplements to this program for 2009-2010.  On September 17, 2010, the Center for Pediatric Research (CPR) at the Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children was awarded an additional 5-year, $9.5-million Center for Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Center for Research Resources (NCRR). This competitive award will allow Nemours to continue to expand the CPR and support the recruitment of additional faculty to this diverse pediatric clinical and research facility.  He serves as the Director of the new Center and administers its staff, revenues and research.  Dr. Shaffer clearly understands translational research, having moved multiple intellectual properties from the bench top to the clinic and on to industry. In addition to NIH funding, enterprises such as Draeger Medical, Discovery Laboratories, INO Therapeutics,the Battelle Foundation  and  Vapotherm, Inc. have sponsored research studies through our lab to further the development of their products.  By being efficient, accessible and knowledgeable, along with publishing our research results in major peer-reviewed journals, we have gained exposure in markets that previously were not aware of our existence.  We need to continue to reach out and broaden our marketplace by submitting abstracts and presenting our work to major conferences, providing the attendees with first-rate science and staff who can discuss and encourage others to work with us in broadening the field of pulmonary research.

During 2011,  the Nemours Pediatric Lung Center was involved in six research studies: 1)  Evaluation of Lung Injury from One-Lung Ventilation and Treatment Regimes (Nemours: M. Theroux, P.I. - completed); 2)  Use of HFNC (Vapotherm) in spontaneously breathing piglets with respiratory distress using two different carrier molecules (Thomas Shaffer, MSE, PhD, P.I. and Haritha Vellanki, M.D., Co-P.I. - completed); 3) Efficacy of Heliox Administration through HFNC (Thomas Shaffer, MSE,  Ph.D. – P.I.; Robert Locke, D.O, Co-PI; Beatriz DeJongh, M.D., Co-P.I. – ongoing);  4) Tidal Breathing Analysis of Asthma Exacerbation (Nemours: Magdy Attia, M.D., PI – completed); 5) Septic shock induced cardiac dysfunction complicates the course of sepsis  (Scott Penfil, M.D. and Yosef Levenbrown, P.I.s – completed), and 6) The Center for Pediatric Research (CPR), NIH,  NCRR, COBRE Program ( Thomas H. Shaffer, MSE, PhD-PI).  Additional studies with Vapotherm and Discovery Laboratories are in the development stage for 2012.

Over the past few years, we have developed a unique noninvasive pulmonary evaluation laboratory that provides specialized testing on both neonatal patients and those who have some extraordinary complications that result in pulmonary compromise (Orthopedic Disorders).  As a result of our growing reputation in this area, we have been instrumental in attracting a number of referrals from other medical facilities who trust us with their patients and know that they can rely on our guidance in their patients’ care.   In 2011, the Nemours Noninvasive Pulmonary Evaluation Laboratory participated in the one-lung ventilation study with Dr. Mary Theroux (Anesthesiology) and the asthma study with Dr. Magdy Attia (ER/Trauma).  The Departments of Pulmonology, Cardiology, Orthopedics, Respiratory Care and the NICU have provided additional patients for testing.

When you do great research and publish your results, the world soon comes to recognize your presence/reputation as a force to be respected.  Accessibility is important, too.  You can’t be too busy to reach out and share your knowledge.  Mentoring is sometimes your best friend.  The research becomes a huge endless loop of researchers and facilitators who work to keep the science moving in the right direction on a consistent basis and find ways to help alleviate disease and the devastation it can cause to human life.

We constantly try to make new contacts and pursue new opportunities.  In this regard, the COBRE program has allowed us to network with all of the 84 institutions associated within the   program across the nation.  Fostering collaborative relationships opens opportunities for collaborative research projects.  Additionally, we’ve been fortunate in having so many highly ranked peer-reviewed journals accept our research manuscripts for publications.  Furthermore, we have a very high rate of abstract acceptance at major national and international conferences.

The number of Fellows seeking to work with us has increased steadily over the past five years.  As noted previously, we work on research studies with clinicians from the departments of Pulmonology, Orthopedics, Cardiology, Neonatology, Genetics, Pediatrics, Emergency Medicine, Respiratory Care, Critical Care, Anesthesia, Allergy and others throughout the organization.   We have worked on studies with physicians from Christiana Care, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard University,  Columbia University, Yale University, TUFTS, and, of course, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, University of Delaware  and Temple University, among others.   In this regard, the COBRE program has been an excellent recruitment tool for attracting both new and senior investigators to Nemours, which enhances our research and broadens our collaborative base.

The Lung Center has been involved with translational research and has training clinical scientists since its conception in 2001.  However, with the award of the COBRE grant in 2004, which supports the fundamental concept of translational research across pediatric disease processes, this concept has grown enormously at Nemours.  Based on the success of the COBRE Phase I grant, it appears that the COBRE program may be able to sustain an additional 11 years of growth based on the most recent NIH feedback.

Investigators from the above-stated divisions and other Nemours Biomedical Research Center directors meet regularly to discuss both clinical and basic science studies that could have an impact on clinical care at Nemours.  For example, a recent manuscript (In Press) showed that the use of chest physical therapy had little effect on reducing the severity of asthma exacerbations or the length of stay in the hospital.  The results of this study have impacted the care protocol for these patients at the Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children.  More recently, at the 2011 Society for Pediatric Research we presented our Emergency Department (ED) Results on the utilization of pulmonary function studies in the ED for evaluating patients with asthma problems.

As noted above, once a track record has been established, investigators will come to the Center based on the Center’s success rate.  For example, we have established an animal intensive care facility that duplicates the equipment and environment associated with a NICU, PICU and OR.   This environment attracts subspecialties that want to answer clinical questions which cannot be explored (due to the invasive nature of the measurements) in clinical studies.  Thus, the animal models (Large and small) and cell laboratory provide the optimum environment to answer these questions.  None of this would have been possible without the Lung Center facility.

The Lung Center strategy for attracting external funding is built on 25+ years of the Lung Center Director’s experience in maintaining translational research programs and attracting clinical scientists into these types of projects.  The main strategy is to demonstrate productivity in publications, abstracts and presentations, which leads to success in external grant funding such as that provided by the NIH, foundations and corporate sponsors.  Once an established track record is in place, many corporate sponsors will come to you.

Current Projects

  • Evaluation of Lung Injury from One-Lung Ventilation and Treatment Regimes (Nemours: M. Theroux, P.I. - completed)
  • Use of HFNC (Vapotherm) in spontaneously breathing piglets with respiratory distress using two different carrier molecules (Thomas Shaffer, MSE, PhD, P.I. and Haritha Vellanki, M.D., Co-P.I. - completed)
  • Efficacy of Heliox Administration through HFNC (Thomas Shaffer, MSE,  Ph.D. – P.I.; Robert Locke, D.O, Co-PI; Beatriz DeJongh, M.D., Co-P.I. – ongoing)
  • Tidal Breathing Analysis of Asthma Exacerbation (Nemours: Magdy Attia, M.D., PI – completed)
  • Septic shock induced cardiac dysfunction complicates the course of sepsis  (Scott Penfil, M.D. and Yosef Levenbrown, P.I.s – completed)
  • The Center for Pediatric Research (CPR), NIH,  NCRR, COBRE Program ( Thomas H. Shaffer, MSE, PhD-PI).  Additional studies with Vapotherm and Discovery Laboratories  are in the development stage for 2012.

Research Group

  • Aaron Chidekel, M.D. - Pulmonologist. Studying the effects of biological interventions on Calu-3 cell preparations.
  • Jay Greenspan, M.D. - Neonatologist. Clinical studies on translational research developed in the lung center.
  • Thomas Miller, Ph.D. - Postdoctoral Fellow. Studying the effects of MMP alterations with inflammation in the deloping lung and airway.
  • Cliff Singhaus, Ph.D. - Postdoctoral Fellow. Studying the effects of Heliox and iNO inhalation on lung and airway function.
  • Polani Ramesh Babu, Ph.D. - Postdoctoral Fellow. Studying the effects of biological interventions on Calu-3 cell preparations.
  • Tami Sherman, B.S., R.N., MBA - Research Nurse Coordinator. Laboratory manager and clinical co-ordinator
  • Tim Cox, B.S., RT - Director Respiratory Therapy, Laboratory and CLinical Studies on translational research.

Selected Publications

  • Minwook K, Pugarelli J, Miller TL, Wolfson MR, Dodge GR, Shaffer TH: Short-term mechanical ventilation impacts neonatal airway cartilage structure and mechanical properties Pediatr Pulmonol. Dec 13, 2011 [E pub ahead of Print].
  • Henrichsen T, Lindenskov PHH, Reiseter T, Shaffer TH, Fugelseth D, Lindemann R: Perfluorodecalin lavage of a long-standing, lung atelectasis in a child with spinal muscle atrophy. Ped Pulmonol. Oct 17, 2011[ E pub ahead of Print].
  • Kazzazz J, Strayer MS, Wu J, Malone DJ, Koo H, Shaffer TH, Davis JM, Strayer DS, Wolfson, MR:  Perfluorochemical liquid-adenovirus suspensions enhance gene delivery to the distal lung.  Pulmonary Medicine.  Aug 18, 2011 [ E pub ahead of Print].
  • Bhatia R,  Shaffer TH, Hossain J, Olivant-Fisher A, Horner LM, Rodriguez ME, Penfil SH,and Theroux MC: Surfactant Administration Prior to One Lung Ventilation to Attenuate Injury.  Pediatr Pulmonol. May 26, 2011 [Epub ahead of print].
  • Ramirez ER,  Nessetti DK, Nessetti M,  Khatamee M,  Ramirez VZ,   Navarro RE,  Wolfson MR,  Shaffer TH,  Ramirez HA:  First Live Birth after a Successful Uterine Allo-Transplant,  J Minim Invasive Gynecol. 18(2):  238-45, 2011.
  • Chang G, Cox CA, Shaffer TH. Nasal Cannula, CPAP, and Vapotherm: Effect of Flow on Temperature, Humidity, Pressure and Resistance.  Biomed Instrum.& Technol 45(1): 69-74, 2011.
  • Oshodi B, Dysart K, Cook A, Rodriguez EM, Zhu Y, Shaffer TH, Miller TL:  Airway injury resulting from repeated endotracheal intubations:  Possible prevention strategies.  Pediatr Crit Care Med. 12(1): e34-39, 2011.
  • Frizzola MA, Dysart K, Rodriguez E, Zhu Y,  Rojas J, Hesek A,  Stump A,  Shaffer TH,  Miller TL. Physiologic mechanisms of high flow nasal cannula therapy (HFT) with two degrees of leak around nasal prongs. Pediatr. Pulmonol. 46(1):67-74, 2011.
  • Rodriguez M, Miller TL, Mackenzie WG, Ditro C, Chidekel AS, Shaffer TH: Characteristics of Impulse Oscillometry and Thoracoabdominal Motion in Children with Thoracic Cage Disorders.  Pediatr. Pulmonol. 45(7):670-86, 2010.
  • Theroux MC, O Fisher A, Horner LM, Rodriguez  ME,  Costarino AT,  Miller TL,  Shaffer TH:  Protective Ventilation to Reduce Inflammatory Injury from One Lung Ventilation.  Paediatr Anaesth. 26(4): 356-64, 2010.
  • Shaffer TH, Hubert TL, Wu J, Lindemann R,  and Wolfson MR.  Thermal Responses of Two Prototype Hybrid Systems for Neonatal Warming – In Vitro and In Vivo Comparisons. US Pediatrics 4: 10-16, 2010.
  • Dysart K, Miller TL, Wolfson MR, Shaffer TH.  Research in high flow therapy:  Mechanisms of action.  Respir Med. 3(10):1400-05, 2009.
  • Laudadio RE, Wolfson MR, Shaffer TH, Driska SP.  Developmental differences in the contractile response of isolated ovine tracheal smooth muscle cells.  Pediatr Pulmonol. 44(6):602-12, 2009.
  • DiDario AG, Whelan MA, Hwan WH, Yousef E, Cox TJ, Oldham HM, Padman R, Bunnell HT, Shaffer TH, McGeady SJ. Efficacy of Chest Physiotherapy in Pediatric Patients With Acute Asthma Exacerbations. Pediatr Asthma Allergy Immunol.  22: 69-74, 2009.
  • Chong E, Dysart KC, Chidekel A, Locke R, Shaffer TH, Miller TL:  Heat shock protein 70 secretion by neonatal tracheal tissue during mechanical ventilation:  Association with indices of tissue function and modeling.  Pediatr Res. 65(4):387-91, 2009.
  • Sturtz SJ, Touch SM, Locke RG, Greenspan JS, Shaffer TH:  Evaluation of Ventilation during High-Frequency Oscillatory Ventilation.  Pediatr Crit Care Med. 9(1):101-104, 2008.
  • Sarafidis K, Malone DJ, Zhu G, Kazzaz JA, Davis JM, Shaffer TH, Wolfson MR:  Perfluorochemical augmented rhSOD delivery attenuates inflammation in the immature lung.  J Neonatal-Perinatal Med. 1:159-168, 2008.
  • Wolfson MR, Malone DJ, Wu J, Hoffman J, Rozenberg A, Shaffer TH, Barbut D:  Intranasal Perfluorochemical Spray for Selective Brain Cooling in Sheep.  NeuroCrit Care 8(3):437-47, 2008.
  • Miller TL, Zhu Y, Markwardt S, Singhaus CJ, Chidekel AC, Shaffer TH: Dissociation between the effects of oxygen and pressure on matrix metalloproteinase 2, 7 and 9 expression in human airway epithelial cells.  Am J. Perineatol. 25(8): 481-489, 2008.
  • Zhu Y, Miller TL, Singhaus CJ, Shaffer TH, Chidekel A: Effects of oxygen concentration and exposure time on cultured human airway epithelial cells.  Pediatr Crit Care Med 9(2):234-239, 2008.
  • Wolfson M, Hirschl R, Jackson J, Foley D, Gauvin F, Lamm W, Gaughan J, Shaffer TH: Multi-center Comparative Study of Conventional Mechanical Ventilation (CMV) to Total Liquid Ventilation (TLV) in Oleic Acid (OA) Injured Sheep.  ASAIO 54(3): 256-67, 2008.
  • Zhu Y, Miller TL, Chidekel A, Shaffer TH:  KL4-surfactant (lucinactant) protects human airway epithelium from Hyperoxia.  Pediatr. Res 64(2):154-158, 2008.
  • Theroux MC, Olivant A, Lim D, Bernardi JP, Costarino AT, Shaffer TH, Miller TL:  Low dose methylprednisolone prophylaxis to reduce inflammation during one-lung ventilation.  Paediatr Anaesth  18(9):857-64, 2008.
  • Wolfson MR, Funanage VL, Kirwin SM, Pilon AL, Shashikant BN, Miller TL, Shaffer TH:  Recombinant human CC10 treatment increases surfactant and VEGF expression in a premature lamb model of respiratory distress syndrome.  Am J Perinatol 25(10): 637-45, 2008.
  • Cullen AB, Cooke, PH, Driska SP, Wolfson MR, Shaffer TH:  Correlation of tracheal smooth muscle function with structure and protein expression during early development.  Pediatr Pulmonol.  42(5):421-432, 2007.
  • Miller TL, Altman AR, Tsuda T, Shaffer TH:  An ultrasound imaging method for in vivo tracheal bulk and Young’s moduli of elasticity.  J Biomech  40(7):1615-1621, 2007.
  • Singhaus CJ, Utidjian LH, Akins RE, Touch SM, Shaffer TH:  Growth and Development in a Heliox (Hx) Incubator Environment:  A Long-Term Safety Study.  Neonatology  921:28-25, 2007.
  • Miller TL, Zhu Y, Altman AR, Dysart K, Shaffer TH:  Sequential alterations of tracheal mechanical properties in the neonatal lamb: Effect of mechanical ventilation.  Pediatr Pulmonol. 42(2): 141-9, 2007.
  • Miller TL, Shashikant BN, Pilon AL, Pierce RA, Shaffer TH, Wolfson MR:  Effects of recombinant Clara cell secretory protein (rhCC10) on inflammatory-related matrix metalloproteinase activity in a preterm lamb model of neonatal respiratory distress. Pediatr Crit Care Med. 8(1):40-46, 2007.
  • Cullen AB, Cooke, PH, Driska SP, Wolfson MR, Shaffer TH: The Impact of Mechanical Ventilation on Immature Airway Smooth Muscle: Functional, Structural, Histological and Molecular Correlates.  Biol. Neonate   90(1):17-27, 2006.
  • Miller TL, Singhaus CJ, Sherman TI, Greenspan JS, Shaffer TH:  Physiologic implications of helium as a carrier gas for inhaled nitric oxide in a neonatal model of Bethanecol-induced bronchoconstriction.  Pediatr Crit Care Med. 7(2):159-164, 2006.
  • Miller TL, Touch SM, Shaffer TH:  Matrix metalloproteinase and tissue inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinase expression profiles in tracheal aspirates do not adequately reflect tracheal or lung tissue profiles in neonatal respiratory distress: observations from an animal model.  Pediatr Crit Care Med. 7(1): 63-9, 2006.
  • Miller TL, Touch SM, Singhaus CJ, Ramesh Babu PB, Chidekel A, Shaffer TH:  Expression of matrix metalloproteinases 2, 7 and 9 and their tissue inhibitors 1 and 2, in developing rabbit tracheae.  Biol Neonate.  89(4):236-43, 2006.

Professor of Pediatrics
Director, Center for Pediatric Lung Research
Director and Principal Investigator COBRE, Center for Pediatric Research

Phone: (302) 651-6837

Fax: (302) 651-6810


Office: A.I. duPont Hospital for Children

Department of Research
Nemours Research Lung Center
1600 Rockland Road
Wilmington, DE 19899


  • B.S., M.S., Ph.D. - Drexel University
  • M.S. - Penn State University
  • Postdoctoral - University of Pennsylvania