Division of Pediatric Allergy and Clinical Immunology: Research and Laboratories

We aim to provide comprehensive, state-of-the-art care for children with allergic disorders and asthma. Consistent with this mission is a robust basic and translational research program to improve the standard of care for the disorders we treat.


The lab of Donna Bratton, MD, focuses on the recognition of dying inflammatory cells as a means to resolve and potentially to control inflammation. Dying cells signal to professional phagocytes and tissue cells to recycle themselves and to produce mediators that dampen the inflammatory response. Importantly, the inflammatory milieu has been found to alter the ability of phagocytes to respond to dying cells. It is our goal to better understand the signals from dying cells and phagocytes with the goal to exploit such signals in chronic inflammation. Specifically, the role of dying cells and their recognition in the inflammation of different asthma phenotypes is being investigated in research protocols.


The lab of Pia Hauk, MD, has been studying biomarkers of childhood asthma and potential mechanisms of steroid resistance in childhood asthma.


The lab of Patricia Giclas, PhD, is interested in the role of complement in human disease.


The lab of Erwin Gelfand, MD, is interested in animal models of asthma and allergic rhinitis. Specific focuses include the regulation of these allergic responses by regulatory T cells, the role of CD8+ T cells as mediators of disease pathogenesis, and the delineation of critical signaling pathways in effector T cells, regulatory T cells, and mast cells. In addition to allergen-triggered disease, the role of viruses and ozone in eliciting lung and nasal pathology are being investigated. These studies combine molecular, genetic, and cellular approaches.


The lab of Donald Leung, MD, PhD focuses on understanding the mechanisms underlying the development of atopic dermatitis (AD). In particular, we are interested in understanding the relationship between AD skin disease and skin infection. Approximately 90% of AD patients are colonized with Staphylococcus aureus. Additionally, these patients are susceptible to skin infections with herpes simplex virus and vaccinia virus. The skin barrier serves as the first line of defense against invading pathogens. In AD patients, this protective skin barrier is significantly compromised.  Our lab is currently investigating the different components of the epidermis and their role in barrier integrity.  If a pathogen bypasses the skin barrier, the innate immune response protects against further infection. Anti-microbial peptides are one component of the innate immune response that exhibit potent activity against bacterial and viral pathogens. In AD skin, many of these anti-microbial peptides are deficient, thereby increasing the susceptibility to infection. We are currently investigating several families of anti-microbial peptides for their role in innate immune responses to bacterial and viral pathogens as well as mechanisms controlling their expression. 


The lab of Donald Leung, MD, PhD, and Elena Goleva, PhD, has been interested in mechanisms underlying steroid resistance in asthma and other immunologic disorders.  Their studies focus on development of biomarkers which may predict steroid resistance as well as the signaling pathways altering response to corticosteroids.  The role of race, gender, infection and allergens in causing steroid resistance is under active investigation.


The lab of Andrew Liu, MD, is interested in the assessment of biomarkers in allergy and asthma as well as the role of microbial components (inc endotoxin) in the environment of allergic patients. Important gap areas persist in our understanding and management of asthma. Those that continue to be addressed by ongoing research by investigator Dr. Liu include: (1) understanding and predicting progressive, severe, and poorly controlled asthma that does not respond well to conventional asthma management; (2) development of predictive test panels to individualize care and optimize asthma outcomes; and (3) investigation of preventive measures to reverse the rising prevalence of asthma worldwide. Learn more about research in the Liu Lab.


The lab of Nathan Rabinovitch, MD, is interested in the role of air pollution, environmental tobacco smoke and biological aerosols in mediating asthma severity. In addition, environmental and bio-markers of medication susceptibility are being actively investigated. Defining and measuring these markers in patients may lead to a personalized tailored approach to medical therapy in asthma. 

 

Learn more about the Division of Pediatric Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

 

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