• 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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    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 Patrick H. Ryan, PhD, MS (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 CCAAPS is to determine the roles of environmental factors in the development of allergic disorders in childhood. Allergy clinics directed by David I. Bernstein, MD and Manuel Villareal, MD have conducted annual clinical and immunological evaluations, and DNA samples have been collected in all subjects, facilitating evaluations of genetic-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.
    Trainees have the opportunity to participate in clinical trials of new therapeutic agents under development for approval by the FDA. The faculty in the Division of Allergy and Immunology have established a clinical research center where multicenter clinical trials and investigator-initiated studies are performed, including numerous trials of new agents for treating asthma and eosinophilic disorders and for desensitization for food allergy. 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. 

    The 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 Internal Medicine tracks. A number of publications have resulted from these collaborations, several of which have involved allergy fellows.

    Jonathan Bernstein, MD has established a DNA bank and database for asthma, allergic and non-allergic rhinitis and other allergic disorders. This project has resulted in collaborations with investigators from the Division of Immunology (Jonathan Bernstein, MD and David Bernstein, MD), Division of Pulmonary Medicine, Division of Allergy and Immunology (Marc E. Rothenberg, MD, PhD; Gurjit Khurana Hershey, MD, PhD; and Amal H. Assa'ad, MD), the Division of Immunobiology and the Center for Environmental Health. Allergy fellows have used this database and DNA bank, which are largely derived from patients at the UC Medical Center and Cincinnati VA Medical Center allergy clinics and the patient population of a large community allergy and asthma private practice in Greater Cincinnati (Bernstein Allergy Group), comprising a combined patient population of 20,000. 

    Gurjit Khurana Hershey, MD, PhD at Cincinnati Children's has initiated a similar DNA bank and database; currently, there are approximately 2,000 well-characterized patients in the DNA bank.  

    A DNA data bank has also been established to study genotypes 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 Bernstein, MD, PI, R01 OH008795).  

    Marc E. Rothenberg, MD, PhD at Cincinnati Children’s has a well-characterized database and sample databank of patients with eosinophilic disorders, which is coordinated through the Cincinnati Center for Eosinophilic Disorders.  

    Former fellow Tolly Epstein, MD established a DNA bank and database of subjects for a study on asthma in the elderly.

    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 advisor from the Division of General 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 practice (GCP) guidelines in human research through course work and their daily interactions with their faculty mentors in clinical research.
    Our faculty have established an Occupational Allergy and Asthma Program that is widely recognized for research in work-related allergies and lung disorders. David I. Bernstein, MD is a faculty member leading an NIH-funded, international study evaluating genetic susceptibility for occupational asthma caused by reactive chemicals (NIOSH/CDC grant, R01 OH008795). The faculty are also investigating the immunologic mechanisms of these disorders with funding from government and industry contracts. Allergy / Immunology fellows will have an opportunity to evaluate occupational disorders during adult rotations and may elect to participate in a variety of ongoing experimental and clinical research projects.