Dr. Risby's research stresses the development of novel, highly sensitive analytical chemical approaches used as non-invasive biomarkers of tissue injury and disease, with primary application to the clinical setting. His laboratory has developed breath markers of biosynthesis of cholesterol, liver function and liver disease, and nutritional status. He has applied these techniques to human subjects of all ages, and in a variety of clinical situations, as, for example, in the premature infant and in patients undergoing transplantation surgery. More recently, he has initiated studies that are using his developed biomarkers of tissue injury to investigate the effects of exposure to environmental toxicants.
Dr. Risby's laboratory has a long-standing research interest in the inhalation of airborne particles with particular reference to emissions from mobile sources. The focus of these studies has been the development of theoretical models that can be used to predict the formation of airborne particulate matter and the subsequent release of adsorbed pollutant molecules in pulmonary surfactant and/or inside pulmonary phagocytic cells. These studies continue through investigations that are aimed at understanding the relationship between the physicochemistry of pollutant-particle complexes and the molecular biology of phagocytic and pulmonary epithelial cells.