Franciskus J. Walther, M.D., Ph.D., F.A.A.P.

Franciskus J Walther, MD, PhD

Professor of Pediatrics, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Synthetic lung surfactant as a therapeutic modality

Research Description

Dr. Walther leads a multi-dimensional research project aimed at developing a synthetic lung surfactant to treat breathing problems in preterm infants with surfactant-deficiency and lung immaturity (respiratory distress syndrome, RDS) and in (near)term infants with surfactant inactivation due to meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS). Synthetic surfactant treatment may also be beneficial in children and adults with surfactant insufficiency caused by pneumonia or chemical lung injury (acute respiratory distress syndrome, ARDS). His research is an essential element of the rescue treatment for infants, children and adults in respiratory distress.

Dr. Walther’s lab seeks to design, synthesize, and bring effective lung surfactant peptides, modeled after the sequence of human surfactant proteins B and C (SP-B and SP-C) to clinical care. Additionally, he is working towards developing an advanced lung surfactant preparation for an aerosol delivery system that would eliminate the need for intubation.


  • MD, 1972, Leiden University, Leiden, the Netherlands
  • PhD, 1982, Maastricht University, Maastricht, the Netherlands

Recent and/or Significant Publications

  1. Walther FJ, Gordon LM, Waring AJ. Design of surfactant protein B peptide mimics based on the saposin fold for synthetic lung surfactants. Biomed Hub. 2016 Sep-Dec;1(3). doi: 10.1159/000451076
  2. Notter RH, Gupta R, Schwan AL, Wang Z, Shkoor MG, Walther FJ. Synthetic lung surfactants containing SP-B and SP-C peptides plus novel phospholipase-resistant lipids or glycerophospholipids. PeerJ. 2016 Oct 27;4:e2635. doi: 10.7717/peerj.2635
  3. Waring AJ, Gupta M, Gordon LM, Fujii G, Walther FJ. Stability of an amphipathic helix-hairpin surfactant peptide in liposomes. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2016 Dec; 1858(12):3113-3119. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamem.2016.09.014.
  4. Walther FJ, Waring AJ, Hernández-Juviel JM, Ruchala P, Wang Z, Notter RH, Gordon LM. Surfactant protein C peptides with salt-bridges ("ion-locks") promote high surfactant activities by mimicking the α-helix and membrane topography of the native protein. PeerJ. 2014 Jul 15;2:e485. doi: 10.7717/peerj.485
  5. Walther FJ, Hernández-Juviel JM, Waring AJ. Aerosol delivery of synthetic lung surfactant. PeerJ. 2014 May 27;2:e403. doi: 10.7717/peerj.403