Allergy and Immunology

  • Research Training

    Intensive research training is offered in three programmatic areas: the Experimental Research track, the Clinical Research track and the Healthcare Transformation Research track.


    The program pays great attention to mentorship on the personal and academic level. The program director meets with the fellows every six months to ensure that the fellows remain on track in all aspects of training. Many faculty within and outside the division are available for fellows to choose as mentors. To better coordinate the fellows’ mentorship in research, the fellowship has a research working group attended by Marc Rothenberg, MD, PhDSimon Hogan, PhD, David Bernstein, MD, and Kimberly Risma, MD, PhD as faculty members and fellow representatives. The working group formalizes the research plans for the fellowship and the Scientific Oversight Committee for each fellow.In addition to technical competence, the fellows develop important skills in bringing a research project to fruition, including grant writing, manuscript preparation and oral presentations of research findings.

    Experimental Research Track

    Allergy / immunology fellows interested in basic and experimental biology may conduct research in a broad range of immunological disorders.The fellows in the Experimental Research track join a research laboratory, where they spend the majority of their effort during research years, and develop competency in performing research techniques that are pertinent to their particular research project. For example, fellows may learn the following techniques: DNA cloning, sequencing, DNA chips; animal breeding, husbandry and genotyping; transgenic engineering; tissue culture; microscopy including morphometric analysis; histologic identification of lymphocytes, mast cells, eosinophils, etc.; immunohistochemistry, mRNA in situ hybridization; cytokine assays − enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), polymerase chain reactions (PCR); Southern, northern, and western blotting; electrophoresis; and data analysis, graphs, statistics and interpretation.Fellows on the Clinical Research track may choose to enroll in graduate-level courses through the University of Cincinnati’s Immunobiology Graduate Training Program, located at Cincinnati Children’s. This program was designed to meet a growing demand for well-trained immunologists, both in academic institutions and in industry.

    Clinical Research Track

    Allergy / Immunology fellows interested in clinical research have several research and opportunities. The fellows in the Clinical Research track develop a clinical research project, on which they spend the majority of their effort during research years, and competency in performing research techniques that are pertinent to their particular research project and in data analysis, graphs, statistics and interpretation.

    Healthcare Transformation Research Track

    Allergy / immunology fellows interested in transforming pediatric health and healthcare delivery may apply to the Quality Scholars Program in Healthcare Transformation. The program’s objectives are to develop conceptual, methodological, practical and leadership skills to: design, develop, test, sustain, scale and disseminate effective interventions in healthcare delivery; accurately measure health and healthcare quality, cost and value; create and lead organizational and policy environments engaged in continuous improvement; and undertake research that creates knowledge and translates evidence of improved approaches to care in clinical, public health and policy settings. This program, directed by Evaline A. Allessandrini, MD, has a three-year training period and involves formal coursework with the University of Cincinnati for a master’s of science in the Clinical Research Training Program. The Quality Scholars Program has two training tracks − Independent Improvement Investigator and System-wide Improvement Leader.

  • Research / Training Opportunities

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    Childhood Allergy / Air Pollution

    Allergy faculty from both the adult and pediatric divisions (David I. Bernstein, MD, Manuel Villareal, MD, and Gurjit Khurana Hershey, MD, PhD) collaborate as coinvestigators with Grace LeMasters, PhD (senior epidemiologist in the Department of Environmental Health) in a prospective birth cohort study of over 700 infants in Greater Cincinnati (Cincinnati Childhood Allergy and Asthma Prospective study, CCAAPS). The principle aim of the CCAAPS study is to determine the roles of environmental factors in development of allergic disorders in childhood. Allergy clinics directed by David I. Bernstein, MD, and Manuel Villareal, MD, have conducted annual clinical and immunologic evaluations, and DNA samples have been collected in all subjects, facilitating evaluations of gene-environmental interactions and clinical outcomes. Environmental assessments have been performed by staff and trainees in the Department of Environmental Health. T32 trainees from the allergy / immunology program have directly participated in clinical evaluations of pediatric subjects participating in this longitudinal study and have utilized the CCAAPS dataset for multiple publications. This investigation has generated many research projects resulting in numerous publications authored by allergy trainees and provided the basis for the renewal of the CCAAPS grant. CCAAPS has served as the basis for theses for allergy fellows and graduate students pursuing masters and PhD degrees in epidemiology and clinical research. There will continue to be extensive opportunities of analysis of existing data through CCAAPS, as well as future longitudinal studies as the children grow older.

    Clinical Trials

    Trainees have the opportunity to participate in clinical trials of new therapeutic agents under development for approval by the FDA. The faculty in the Allergy and Immunology Division in the Department of Internal Medicine have established a clinical research center where multicenter clinical trials and investigator-initiated studies are performed, including numerous trials of new agents for treating acute attacks of hereditary angioedema. Trainees work as sub-investigators under direct supervision of clinical and translational faculty and are introduced to the nuts and bolts of conducting clinical studies, good clinical practice (GCP) guidelines and ethical principles guiding conduct of human research. On the pediatric side, there are over ten investigator-initiated clinical protocols ongoing and fellows can get involved at various levels, including the design of new protocols.

    Genetics of Atopy

    The adult allergy clinics have made possible a number of clinical and translational research projects that actively involve the allergy fellow trainees from both the pediatric and adult divisions. Jonathan Bernstein, MD, has established a DNA bank and database for asthma, allergic and non-allergic rhinitis and other allergic disorders. Gurjit Khurana Hershey, MD, PhD, at Cincinnati Children’s has initiated a similar DNA bank and database. Currently, there are approximately 4,000 well-characterized patients in the DNA bank. A DNA data bank has also been established to study phenotypes associated with occupational asthma, and this has been expanded to a multicenter NIOSH / CDC-funded international study of genetic markers associated with occupational asthma due to reactive chemicals (David I. Bernstein, PI, R01). Faculty member Tolly Epstein, MD, is enrolling subjects for a study on asthma in older adults that involves creation of a DNA bank and database that may be accessed in the future. Additionally, Dr. Marc Rothenberg at Cincinnati Children’s has a well-characterized database and sample databank of patients with eosinophilic esophagitis.

    Epidemiology and Biostatistics

    Allergy / immunology fellows interested in clinical research are enrolled in a master’s program offered by the Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of Cincinnati. There are two training programs available: master’s of epidemiology and biostatistics and master’s of science in clinical research. Both master’s programs offer courses in environmental health, statistics, biostatistics and epidemiology. The master’s thesis research is drawn from the clinical research work conducted by the clinical members of both fellowship tracks in projects related to epidemiology, risk assessment for childhood asthma or allergic sensitization early in life. Alternatively, trainees may become involved in investigator-initiated research examining efficacy of new therapeutic agents in the treatment of asthma or other allergic disorders. Outcomes research would also be an option and would be conducted under the mentorship of a faculty adviser from the Division of Outcomes Research, Department of Internal Medicine, Joel Tsevat, MD.

    This program is supplemented by courses and seminars offered by divisional courses including: Introduction to Clinical Research, Presenting and Writing Skills, Ethics in Research, Fellows Teaching Workshop and Grant Fundamentals. Additionally, fellows receive instruction on important issues related to human subjects, ethics and patient confidentiality as well as receive instruction on good clinical practices in human research through course work and their daily interactions with their faculty sponsors in clinical research.