Surafel Mulugeta, PhD

Picture of Surafel Mulugeta

Research Associate Professor of Medicine

Doctoral training – Ph.D.
Biomedical Science/Neuroscience, Eastern Virginia Medical School/Old Dominion University, Norfolk VA, 1997

Postdoctoral Fellowship
Pulmonary Biology, Institute for Environmental Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia PA, 1998–2000

Postdoctoral Fellowship
Pulmonary Biology, Pulmonary and Critical Care Division, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia PA, 2000–2003
Edward J. Stemmler Hall
Philadelphia, PA  19104



Surafel Mulugeta, Ph.D., is a Research Associate Professor of Medicine in the Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Division (PACCD) of the Department of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Mulugeta received his Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences in 1997 from Old Dominion University/Eastern Virginia Medical School. He completed his post-doctoral training at the University of Pennsylvania with Dr. Aron B. Fisher and Dr. Henry Shuman at the Institute for Environmental Medicine, and with Dr. Michael F. Beers at the PACCD. Following two years as a research associate in Dr. Beers’ laboratory, he joined the PCCD faculty in 2006.

Dr. Mulugeta’s early work comprises: a) the study of protein trafficking in the nervous system; b) the identification and characterization of an alveolar type II cell localized ATP binding cassette (ABC) transporter protein class A3 (ABCA3); and  c) the trafficking and posttranslational molecular processing of pulmonary surfactant-associated proteins including Surfactant protein C (SP-C) and ABCA3.  His early work also includes in vitro studies of SP-C and ABCA3 gene mutations that are associated with diffuse parenchymal lung disease.

His recent work focuses on broadening his study on SP-C and ABCA3 in order to further define the biology of these proteins in health and disease.  His most recent effort is directed to understanding the cellular and organellar consequences caused by aberrant expression of mutant SP-C and ABCA3 isoforms that are associated with lung disorders through the utilization of both in vitro strategies and in vivo murine models of mutation-induced lung disorders.

Research Grants and Contracts

Dr. Mulugeta’s recent work was funded by NIH RO1 HL119436-01, NIH 4R33HL120760-03, and NIH RO1 HL119436.  He is currently funded by NIH RO1 HL 129150, RO1 HL 145408, and VA Merit Review 1I01BX00117601A1.

Recent Publications

  • Venosa, A, Katzen, J, Tomer, Y, Kopp, M, Jamil, S, Russo, SJ, Mulugeta, S, and Beers, MF. Epithelial Expression of an Interstitial Lung Disease–Associated Mutation in Surfactant Protein-C Modulates Recruitment and Activation of Key Myeloid Cell Populations in Mice. J Immuno. 2019 PMID: 30910861  PMCID: PMC6478557
  • Katzen, J, Wagner, BD, Venosa, A, Kopp, M, Tomer, Y, Russo, SJ, Headen, AC, Basil, MC, Stark, JM, Mulugeta, S, Deterding, RR, Beers, MF. An SFTPC BRICHOS mutant links epithelial ER stress and spontaneous lung fibrosis. JCI insight. 2019 PMID: 30721158  PMCID: PMC6483196
  • Nureki, S-I, Tomer, Y, Venosa, A, Katzen, J , Russo, S, Jamil, S, Barrett, M, Nguyen, V, Kopp, M, l Mulugeta, S, and Beers, MF. Mutant SFTPCI73T Expressed In Alveolar Epithelia Drives Spontaneous Lung Fibrosis. JCI. 2018 PMID: 29920187  PMCID: PMC6118576
  • Beers, M.F., Knudsen L., Tomer Y., Maronn J., Zhao M., Ochs M., Mulugeta S. Aberrant lung remodeling in a mouse model of surfactant dysregulation induced by modulation of the Abca3 gene. Ann Anat 210: 135-146, 2017.  PMID: 28034695  PMCID: PMC5579840
  • Beers MF and Mulugeta S. The biology of the ABCA3 lipid transporter in lung health and disease. Special issue in “lung development, remodeling and regeneration”. Cell and Tissue Res.  2017.  PMID: 28025703  PMCID: PMC5321817
  • Beers, M. F., Nureki, S-I., and Mulugeta, S. The Role of Epithelial Cell Quality Control in Health and Disease of the Distal Lung. In Lung Epithelial Biology in the Pathogenesis of Pulmonary Disease. Elsevier - St. Louis, Chapter 8, 133-163, 2017.
  • Mulugeta, S. Nureki, S-I., and Beers, M. F. Lost After Translation: Insights from the Pulmonary Surfactant System for the Role of Epithelial Cell Quality Control in Diffuse Parenchymal Lung Disease. Featured review by invitation.  Am. J. Physiol. Lung Cell Mol. Physiol.  309: L507-L525, 2015.  PMID: 26186947.  PMCID: PMC4572416
  • Hawkins A, Guttentag SH, Deterding R, Funkhouser WK, Goraliski JN, Chatterjee S, Beers, MF, and Mulugeta, S. A non-BRICHOS SFTPC mutant (SP-CI73T) linked to interstitial lung disease promotes a late block in macroautophagy disrupting cellular proteostasis and mitophagy. Am. J. Physiol. Lung Cell Mol. Physiol. APS select. 308: L33–L47, 2015.  PMID: 25344067  PMCID: PMC4281696
  • Beers, M.F., Zhao M., Tomer Y., Russo S.J., Zhang P., Gonzalrs L.W. Guttentag S.H. Mulugeta S. Disruption of N-linked glycosylation promotes proteasomal degradation of the human ATP-binding cassette transporter ABCA3. Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol 305(12): L970-80, 2013. PMID: 24142515  PMCID: PMC3882536
  • Maguire, J.A., Mulugeta S., and Beers, M.F.  Multiple ways to die: Delineation of the unfolded protein response and apoptosis induced by Surfactant Protein C BRICHOS mutants.  Int. J. Biochem. & Cell Biol. 44:101-112, 2012.  PMID: 22016030  PMCID: PMC3243113
  • Beers, M.F., Hawkins, A., Maguire JA., Kotorashvili, A., Zhao M., Newitt, J.L. Ding, W., Russo, S.J, Guttentag, S., Gonzales, L., and Mulugeta, S. A non-aggregating surfactant protein C mutant is misdirected to early endosomes and disrupts phospholipid recycling. Traffic 12:1196-2012, 2011. PMID: 21707890  PMCID: PMC3155663
  • Beers, M.F., Hawkins, A., Shuman, H., Zhao, M., Newitt, J.N., Maguire, J.A., and Mulugeta, S.  A novel conserved targeting motif found in ABCA transporters mediates trafficking to early post Golgi compartments. J. Lipid Res. 52:1471-1482, 2011.  PMID: 21586796  PMCID: PMC3139239
  • Maguire, J.A., Mulugeta S., and Beers, M.F.  Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress Induced by Surfactant Protein C BRICHOS Mutants Promotes Proinflammatory Signaling by Epithelial Cells.  Am. J. Respir. Cell. Mol. Biol. 44:404–414, 2011. PMID: 20463293 PMCID: PMC3095939 
  • Woichnik M, Sparr C, Kern S, Thurm T, Hector A, Hartl D, Liebisch G, Mulugeta S, Beers MF, Schmitz G, Griese M. A non-BRICHOS surfactant protein C mutation disrupts epithelial cell function and intracellular signaling. BMC Cell Biol. 11:88, 2010.  PMID: 21092132 PMCID: PMC2994813

Research Interests

  • The cell biology of SP-C and ABCA3 in health and disease
  • Gene mutations associated with lung diseases
  • Cellular quality control process and coping mechanisms
  • Motifs and domains as mediators of intracellular trafficking and targeting of proteins