Pulmonary Function Lab

The Pulmonary Function Laboratory provides comprehensive and specialized testing of pulmonary physiology including lung function, exercise testing, respiratory muscle strength, gas exchange, and exhaled breath markers.  Testing is done in support of clinical needs and research protocols for inpatients and outpatients from all centers and institutes working within the NIH Clinical Center.  Mark Barton, RRT, RPFT serves as the Lab Manager and Dr. Andrew Lipton serves as the Medical Director.

Andrew Lipton

Senior Investigator Research Interests

Research Interests

Many disease processes and therapies may impact the respiratory system.  Pulmonary function testing employs a wide variety of tests to assess the function and response of the respiratory system.  This enables characterization of baseline status of the system as well as longitudinal measurement of changes related to disease progression, improvement,  and response to or adverse effects from therapies.  Testing modalities employed in the laboratory include spirometry, plethysmography, nitrogen washout, diffusion capacity, cardiopulmonary exercise testing, walk testing, respiratory muscle strength, high altitude simulation, shunt studies, impulse oscillometry, bronchoprovocation, and exhaled nitric oxide analysis.  Customized tests may be developed with investigators as required. 


Pulmonary function tests are breathing tests to find out how well your lungs are working. The most common tests are:

  • Spirometry: This typically involves having you take a fast deep inhalation in, then immediately blasting air out to measure total volume as well as the maximum you can exhale at certain timepoints. Sometimes this measurement is made before and after using a bronchodilator medication to dilate your airways.
  • Diffusion Studies: This measures how well oxygen moves from your lungs into your blood by having you take a deep breath of a gas mixture and hold it for a few seconds.
  • Lung volume measurements: This measures the total amount of air in your lungs. We can measure this two ways:
    •  Body plethysmography- you breathe in and out though the machine while sitting in a closed plexiglass booth.
    • Nitrogen washout- you breathe through the machine while breathing 100% oxygen for a few minutes.
  • Six minute walk test: You walk for six minutes on a walk test course set up in our hallway.

Meet the Team

Andrew Lipton

Andrew Lipton, M.S., M.D., MPH&TM

Medical Director

Andrew Lipton received his MD from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1995, where he concurrently received a Master’s of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and received the Upjohn Award for Academic Attainment as his class salutatorian.  Prior to attending medical school, he received a Master of Science Degree in Chemical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.  He did his internship and residency in pediatrics at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii from 1995-1998  and then completed a fellowship in pediatric pulmonology at Tulane University and Kosair Children’s Hospital and the University of Louisville in Louisville, Kentucky, receiving the University of Louisville Chairman’s Achievement Award. Dr. Lipton was then assigned as Chief of Pediatric Pulmonology at Wilford Hall Air Force Medical Center and Brooke Army Medical Center, both in San Antonio Texas, from 2001-2004.  While assigned there Dr. Lipton initiated an outreach clinic to Fort Hood, Texas and twice received the SAMPC Pediatric Center Faculty Excellence Award.  In 2004, Dr. Lipton was assigned to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, which later merged with the National Naval Medical Center to form Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.  He served there as Chief of Pediatric Pulmonology, Director of the Cystic Fibrosis Center, and as Assistant Chief of Pediatrics. While at Walter Reed, Dr. Lipton also served as a Brigade Surgeon for the Walter Reed Brigade and deployed as a Battalion Surgeon to both Iraq and Afghanistan, receiving the Bronze Star for service in Afghanistan. While at Walter Reed, Dr. Lipton was honored with the Surgeon General’s “A” designator, the Legion of Merit, and the Master Clinician Award.  He is an Associate Clinical Professor at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and has been active in teaching medical students, pediatric residents, and adult pulmonary and allergy fellows throughout his career.  In 2016, he began seeing patients at the NIH Clinical Center as a volunteer, joining the Pulmonary Branch fulltime in 2021 following his retirement from the Army as a Colonel. He received the NIH Clinical Center’s CEO Award in 2018.  Dr. Lipton served on the Center Committee and several other committees of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation from 2012-2017.   Dr. Lipton is an associate investigator on several protocols following patients with a variety of connective tissue, autoinflammatory, and chronic airway diseases.