'Silent' Viral Infections Promote Profound Biological Response

Despite an absence of clinical illness, respiratory virus infection can cause significant changes in the biology of the airways of infected individuals, according to research at National Jewish Health. Many of those changes may contribute to asthma exacerbations in susceptible children. Max Seibold, PhD, and his colleagues used a novel RNA-sequencing technique that provides insight into the human response to respiratory viral infections, the most common cause of asthma exacerbations.

The researchers used a novel technique, called dual RNA-seq, to detect both viral infections and the genomic response in children’s airways with the same biological sample. The novel technique detected 18 of the 21 virus-positive samples for an 86 percent sensitivity. They also found viral infections in two of 25 samples judged virus-free by traditional techniques. Overall, the two techniques combined to detect 25 viral infections among 161 children. Viral infections were associated with altered expression of 8,126 genes, notably those associated with asthma, infiltration of the airways by immune cells, down regulation of airway cilia genes and cellular remodeling.


Trigger for Autoimmune Disease Identified

Researchers at National Jewish Health have identified a trigger for autoimmune diseases such as lupus, Crohn’s disease and multiple sclerosis. The findings, published in the April 2017 Journal of Clinical Investigation, suggest a therapeutic target to prevent autoimmune disease in humans. The National Jewish Health research team, led by Chair of the Department of Biomedical Research Philippa Marrack, PhD, previously identified a subset of B cells that accumulate in humans and mice with autoimmune disease and elderly female mice. They named the cells Age-associated B cells, or ABCs. Subsequent research showed that the transcription factor T-bet plays a crucial role in the appearance of ABCs.

Through breeding and genetic techniques, the research team eliminated the ability of autoimmune-prone mice to express T-bet inside their B cells. As a result, ABCs did not appear, and the mice remained healthy. Kidney damage appeared in 80 percent of mice with T-bet in the B cells and in only 20 percent of T-bet-deficient mice. Seventy-five percent of mice with T-bet in their B cells died by 12 months, while 90 percent of T-bet-deficient mice survived 12 months.


Mepolizumab Helps Patients with Refractory Churg-Strauss Syndrome

Mepolizumab, an anti-IL5 monoclonal antibody, demonstrated significant benefits for patients with refractory cases of the rare, eosinophilic autoimmune disease Churg-Strauss Syndrome, according to research at National Jewish Health and other institutions. The phase III trial increased remission rates, cut exacerbations in half and reduced the need for ongoing corticosteroid therapy. The findings were published in the May 18, 2017 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

“Patients receiving mepolizumab cut steroid doses and relapses in half,” said Michael Wechsler, MD, first author of the study and professor of medicine at National Jewish Health. “That is a breakthrough for those patients.”




A Fellowship Where You Learn to Treat the ‘Whole Patient’

During her education and residency Melissa Robinson, DO, became passionate about treating each patient as a whole person, not just as their disease. As she searched for programs that aligned with her commitment, she was thrilled to learn about the Pediatric Day Program at National Jewish Health.




National Jewish Health Ranked #1 Respiratory Hospital

National Jewish Health has been named the #1 hospital in Pulmonology by U.S. News & World Report. “We are proud to be recognized as the leading respiratory hospital in the nation,” said Michael Salem, MD, president and CEO.



National Jewish Health Faculty and Fellows Reception – 2017 AAAAI Annual Meeting

Thank you to everyone who attended the National Jewish Health Faculty and Fellows Reception that took place on March 5, 2017 in Atlanta at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI). The dessert reception was attended by 54 guests and featured remarks by BJ Lanser, MD, director of our Pediatric Food Allergy Program and associate director of our Pediatric Allergy Fellowship Program, as well as Mark Holbreich, MD, former fellow and current trustee.


2017 Morgridge Fellows Dinner – Celebrating the Next Generation of Leaders

National Jewish Health held its fourth annual Morgridge Fellows Dinner on June 13, 2017 at Shanahan’s in Denver. The event is an opportunity to recognize the important work of the Morgridge Fellows, as well as the transformative gift from the Morgridge Family Foundation that created the Morgridge Educational Campus at National Jewish Health. The campus includes the Morgridge Fellows and Morgridge Academy, a free K-8 school for chronically ill children. Several fellows from various areas in the hospital spoke about their experience at National Jewish Health and their plans for the future. The Morgridge Family Foundation’s mission is focused on the future of our communities, and that plays out every day at National Jewish Health.



NTM Lecture Series

Experts from across the country will gather at National Jewish Health to discuss the growing medical challenge surrounding diagnosis and treatment of NTM. Join us on the National Jewish Health campus for an invaluable educational experience.

For Providers — Oct. 19–20, 2017
For Patients and Families — Oct. 21, 2017


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We invite you to review "National Jewish Health Pulmonary Highlights 2016," which captures the state of respiratory medicine at National Jewish Health – what we are working on, what we have learned and where we are headed.



Visit the Former Fellows & Faculty section of our website to stay connected with other former fellows and National Jewish Health colleagues.

Alumni News is published for the current and former fellows of National Jewish Health. Please send article ideas to