Peter D. Wagner

Peter D. Wagner


  • M.D.

  • B.Sc (Med)

Current Position(s): ​

  • Distinguished Emeritus Professor of Medicine and Bioengineering, UCSD

Personal Statement: 

Despite my Emeritus title, I retain an office at UCSD, with recall to active duty part time, and continue most academic activities other than acting as PI of research projects (having decided several years ago not to pursue further research
funding). I recently completed terms as Editor in Chief of the Journal of Applied Physiology, as Chair of an NIH NRSA
study section on cardiopulmonary (patho)physiology), as an Executive Committee member of the International Union of Physiological Sciences, and as an Editor of two sections (Exercise and Respiration) of the APS journal Comprehensive Physiology. I maintain several productive (international) collaborations and recently wrote and published a ~300 page book (with Susan Hopkins as coauthor) describing in detail the mathematics, physiology and applications of the Multiple Inert Gas Elimination Technique (MIGET) I developed over 40 years ago for determining the distribution of
ventilation/perfusion (VA/Q) ratios in the lung. During my ~50 year active research career my focus has always been on oxygen transport, which is clearly connected with all types of lung disease. I developed a unique analysis of O2 transport that explains how maximal O2 transport and utilization is determined by the integrated determinants of each part of the O2 transport pathway. In doing so, I have worked on gas exchange in the lungs to enhance understanding of the
underlying physiological processes, and in similar fashion have been working on gas exchange within muscle during
exercise. These domains have each involved health and disease, and variously used approaches such as mathematical modeling, molecular methods, and studies in both small and large animals as well as in humans (healthy and with cardio-pulmonary diseases.

Over the years, I have trained (alone or in partnership with other faculty) well over 100 individuals. I provide educational talks both within and outside UCSD on topics of journal writing and reviewing, research grant writing, and ethical issues in science. While most have been post-doctoral trainees in our UCSD laboratory, many have been international students with whom I have gone on to collaborate, continuing to this day.

Most recently, I have become involved in COVID-19 research, proposing the use of simple, widely available, arterial and expired CO2 measurements in infected patients to determine the presence of areas of reduced blood flow in the lung as a reflection of pulmonary arterial thrombo-embolic events. This will be complemented by using MIGET in selected cases to more completely describe the abnormalities in VA/Q distribution. Testing the hypothesis that pulmonary arterial
obstruction is important in COVID-19 is a central part of this DOD proposal

Professional History:

  • Postdoctoral fellow, UCSD, 1970-1972

  • Assistant Professor 1973-1978

  • Associate Professor 1978-1984

  • Professor 1984-2010

  • Emeritus 2010


  • B.Sc (Med) Sydney University, Australia, 1967

  • Medical degree, Sydney University, Australia, 1968

  • Internship/Residency Sydney University, Australia, 1968-9

  • Postdoctoral fellow, UCSD 1970-1972


  •  NIH RCDA, 1975-79;

  • AHA Established Investigator Award, 1975-79 (declined);

  • ALAC Established Investigator Award, 1985-87;

  • Manuel Tapia Lecturer for 1990 (SEPAR);

  • The Francqui Visiting Professorship (The Free Univ. of Brussels), 1990-91;

  • Principal Investigator, Program Project (NIH HL 17731), 1990-05; 

  • Assoc. of American Physicians, 1991;

  • Distinguished Lecturer in Physiology, American College of Chest Physicians, 1992;

  • President, International Society on Oxygen Transport to Tissues, 1992-93;

  • Distinguished Lecturer, School of Medicine, University of California San Diego, 1994;

  • Invited Professor, University of Barcelona, 1995;

  • Honorary Doctorate, University of Barcelona, 1999;

  • Robert J. Grover Prize, Amer. Thoracic Society, 2000;

  • J. Burns Amberson Lectureship, Amer. Thoracic Society, 2001;

  •  European Respiratory Society Presidential Award, 2001;

  • Adolph Distinguished Lecturer, Amer. Physiol. Society, 2002;

  • UCSD Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching Award, 2002;

  • American Thoracic Society Vice President, 2003 (Secretary-Treasurer, 2002; President-Elect, 2004; President, 2005;
    Past President 2006;

  • Joseph B. Wolffe Memorial Lecturer, ACSM, 2008;

  • American Physiological Society President, 2010;

  • Joseph R. Rodarte Award for Scientific Distinction, Amer. Thoracic Society, 2009;

  • Sandford L. Skinner Oration, University of Melbourne, Australia, 2009;

  • Editor, J. Applied Physiology 2011-2017

  • Hermann Rahn Memorial Lecture, 2015;

  • Fellow of the Amer. Physiological Society, 2015;

  • Julius H. Comroe, Jr. Distinguished Lectureship, Respiration Section, Amer. Physiological Society, 2017; 

  • Bodil M. Schmidt-Nielsen Distinguished Mentor and Scientist Award, American Physiological Society, 2019

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