Melinda S. Butsch Kovacic, MPH, PhD

Associate Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics

Phone 513-803-0130

Fax 513-636-1657


Clinical and molecular epidemiology; gene-environment interactions; biomarkers; community-based participatory research  

Visit the Butsch Kovacic Lab.

One of Dr. Butsch Kovacic’s long-term goals is to improve the understanding of how the environment modifies chronic disease risk in genetically and/or economically vulnerable children. To this end, she is the PI of an ongoing study that is evaluating associations between environmental exposures and biomarkers of oxidative stress and whether or not these biomarkers will better predict risk of severe/uncontrolled childhood asthma compared to parental report of exposure alone (previous NIEHS R21 and CCTST KL2). As part of this study, her team is evaluating diesel exhaust particle and second hand tobacco smoke exposures, as well as obesity levels, markers of inflammation and antioxidant status, genetic and socioeconomic factors, and DNA methylation patterns. As her preliminary data revealed strong associations between her outcomes and socioeconomic factors, over the last year, she has partnered with Cincinnati’s CoreChange, a grassroots advocacy group, and Seven Hills Neighborhood Houses (SHNH;, a full service social service agency and community center in the West End of Cincinnati, to expand her research into the community using a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach. To this end, she has implemented a community-based research registry and begun needs assessments using a child-centered PhotoVoice approach and adult focus groups. A peer family health COACH (Coaching On Achieving Community Health) program will begin soon. To inform these community-based studies, she is collaborating on a project seeking to develop unique multimedia educational materials targeting low-income and low-literacy caregivers with asthmatic children.

In addition to these studies, she is also the PI of an ongoing longitudinal epidemiological study seeking to evaluate environmental and sexual exposure to human papillomavirus (HPV) in families with children diagnosed with Fanconi anemia (current NHLBI R01). Individuals with Fanconi anemia are genetically vulnerable to squamous head and neck cancers previously shown to be positively associated with HPV. Her team is testing for oral HPV DNA, HPV serological markers as well as markers of immune response. As part of this study, Dr. Butsch Kovacic regularly interacts with a community of families associated with the Fanconi Anemia Research Fund, a strong parent led advocacy group focused on the improving the lives of children with Fanconi anemia, to design, optimize and disseminate the findings from her study.

MPH: Quantitative Methods, Harvard University School of Public Health, Boston, MA, 2003.

PhD: Biochemistry, the Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, 2002.

Postdoctoral Fellowship: Epidemiology/Public Health, Cancer Prevention Fellowship, Hormonal and Reproductive Epidemiology Branch, Division of of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, 2002-2006.

View PubMed Publications

Brandt EB, Kovacic MB, Lee GB, Gibson AM, Acciani TH, Le Cras TD, Ryan PH, Budelsky AL, Khurana Hershey GK. Diesel exhaust particle induction of IL-17A contributes to severe asthma. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2013 Nov:132(5): 1194-1204.

Epstein TG, LeMasters GK, Bernstein DI, Ericksen MB, Martin LJ, Ryan PH, Biagini Myers JM, Butsch Kovacic MS, Lindsey MA, He H, Reponen T, Villareal MS, Lockey JE, Bernstein CK, Khurana Hershey GK. Genetic variation in small proline rich protein 2B as a predictor for asthma among children with eczema. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2012 Mar;108(3):145-50.

Martin LJ, Gupta J, Butsch Kovacic M, Biagini Myers JM, Patterson TL, Ericksen MB, He H, Gibson AM, Baye TM, Heeman AM, Sha S, Eissa T, Khurana Hershey GK. Functional variants in the autophagy-related 5gene promotor associated with childhood asthma. PLoS One. 2012;7(4):e33454.

Hoskins EE, Morreale RJ, Werner SP,  Higginbotham JM, Brown DR, Laimins LA, Lambert PF, Gillison ML, Nuovo GJ, Wikenheiser-Brokamp  KA, Witte DP, Kim MO, Davies SM, Mehta PA,  Butsch Kovacic M*, Wells SI* (*Co-corresponding authors). The Fanconi Anemia Pathway Limits Human Papillomavirus Replication. J Virol. 2012 Aug;86(15):8131-8.

Butsch Kovacic M, Biagini Myers JM, Martin LJ, Lindsey M, Patterson TL, Sauter S, Ericksen MB, Ryan PH, Assa’ad A, Lierl M, Fischer T, Kercsmar C, McDowell K, Lucky AW, Sheth, AP, Hershey AD,  Ruddy RM, Rothenberg M, Khurana Hershey GK. The Greater Cincinnati Pediatric Clinic Repository (GCPCR):  A Novel Framework for Asthma and Allergy Research. Pediatr Allergy Immunol Pulmonol. 2012 Jun;25(2):104-113.

Butsch Kovacic M, Biagini Myers JM, Patterson TL, Lindsey M, Ericksen MB, He H, Gupta J, Sivaprasad U, Gibson AM, Tsoras AM,  Chen W, Musaad S, Baye TM, Khurana Hershey GK. Identification of KIF3A as a Novel Candidate Gene for Childhood Asthma Using RNA Expression and Population Allelic Frequencies Differences. PLoS One. 2011;6(8):e23714.

Myers KC, Bleesing JJ, Davies SM,  Zhang X, Martin LJ, Mueller R, Harris RE, Filipovich AH, Butsch Kovacic M,  Wells SI, Mehta PA. Impaired Immune Function in Children with Fanconi Anemia. Br J Haematol. 2011 Jul;154(2):234-40.

Cortina S, Drotar D, Ericksen M, Lindsey M, Patterson TL, Biagini Myers JM, Butsch Kovacic M, Khurana Hershey GK. Genetic Biomarkers of Health-Related Quality of Life in Pediatric Asthma. J Pediatr. 2011 Jul;159(1):21-26.

Baye TM, Butsch Kovacic M, Biagini Myers JM, Martin LJ, Lindsey M, Patterson TL, He H, Ericksen MB, Gupta J, Tsoras AM, Lindsley A, Rothenberg ME, Wills-Karp M, Eissa NT, Borish L, Khurana Hershey GK. Differences in candidate gene association between European ancestry and African American asthmatic children. PLoS One. 2011 Feb 28;6(2):e16522.

Reszka, KJ, Sallans L, Brown K, McGraw DW, Butsch Kovacic M, Britigan BE. Airway peroxidases catalyze nitration of the β2-agonist salbutamol and decrease its pharmacological activity. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2011 Feb;336(2):440-9.

Fanconi Anemia as a Model for Susceptibility to Human Papillomavirus Infection. Principal Investigator. NIH/NHLBI. July 2011-Jun 2016.

Epithelial Genes in Allergic Inflammation. Co- Investigator. NIH/NIAID Asthma and Allergic Diseases Cooperative Research Center. July 2011-June 2016.