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Cincinnati Children's Physician / Researcher Earns Most Prestigious Award in Pediatric Research


Monday, August 20, 2007

CINCINNATI -- Marc Rothenberg, MD, PhD, professor of pediatrics and director of the Division of Allergy and Immunology at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, received the E. Mead Johnson Award for Research in Pediatrics at the 2007 annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Toronto.

Established in 1939, the award honors clinical and laboratory research achievements in pediatrics and is considered the most prestigious award in pediatric research. Prior award recipients include Nobel laureates and six Cincinnati Children's faculty.

"Dr. Rothenberg has keenly bridged fundamental laboratory investigation with innovative clinical research that has propelled laboratory findings to clinical utility and better patient outcomes," says Tom Boat, MD, outgoing chairman of pediatrics.

Dr. Rothenberg, an internationally recognized leader in the molecular mechanisms of allergic disorders, is one of the world's foremost authorities on eosinophilic disorders. These disorders occur when eosinophils, a type of white blood cell, are found in above-normal amounts in various parts of the body. When the body wants to attack a substance, such as an allergy-triggering food or airborne allergen, eosinophils respond by moving into the area and releasing a variety of toxins. However, when the body produces too many eosinophils, they can cause chronic inflammation, resulting in tissue damage.

Dr. Rothenberg established the Cincinnati Center for Eosinophilic Disorders at Cincinnati Children's in 2005. The center is leading the nation by bringing together experts in allergy / immunology, gastroenterology and pathology to evaluate, treat and study these chronic medical problems in children.

In 2006, in a study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Dr. Rothenberg discovered the first gene associated with eosinophilic esophagitis, a fast-growing new disease whose symptoms mimic gastroesophageal reflux. In 2004, in The New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Rothenberg showed that rates of eosinophilic esophagitis have risen so dramatically in recent years that they may be at higher levels than that of other inflammatory gastrointestinal disorders, such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis.

In 2003, Dr. Rothenberg led an international group of scientists in discovering 291 genes associated with asthma. The identification of these "asthma signature genes" provided an unprecedented opportunity to fully understand the exact processes involved in asthma and other allergic diseases.

Dr. Rothenberg also has identified a key protein, eotaxin, which is involved in the development of allergic diseases such as asthma. Eotaxin belongs to a family of molecules called chemokines that play a key role in the body's response to allergens and also appears to play an important role in AIDS. The new pathway he has uncovered may help scientists develop new approaches to treat asthma and allergic disease.

Earlier this year, Dr. Rothenberg was appointed to serve four years on the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Council of the National Institutes of Health. The NIAID council advises the Secretary of Health and Human Services, as well as the assistant secretary, the director of the NIH and the director of the NIAID, on matters relating to the conduct and support of research, training and health information dissemination. The Advisory Council also reviews all applications for grants and cooperative agreements for research and training relating to allergic and immunologic diseases and disorders.

Dr. Rothenberg came to Cincinnati Children's in 1996 from the faculty of Harvard Medical School and Boston Children's Hospital. He earned a MD and PhD in immunology at Harvard University in 1990 where he started his allergy research under the mentorship of Professor K Frank Austen. He did his pediatric residency at Boston Children's Hospital from 1990-92, followed by fellowships in immunology / allergy at Boston Children's and hematology / oncology at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. Prior to Harvard, Rothenberg received his undergraduate degree from Brandeis University in 1983 where he graduated summa cum laude and started his research career under the director of the biochemistry pioneer Professor William P. Jencks. Rothenberg thanks his parents for the education and opportunities that they provided him.

His prior awards include, in 1998, the Pharmacia Award for outstanding research in allergy. He is an elected member of prestigious medical organizations, including the American Society of Clinical Investigators and the American Association of Physicians.

Rothenberg's research is supported by the National Institutes of Health, as well as several foundations especially the Campaign Urging Research for Eosinophilic Disease, which was established by one of Dr. Rothenberg's patients.

Rothenberg credits his research success largely to his wife Joy who "has been a terrific support and encouragement, and partner."

Also receiving the E. Mead Johnson Award this year is Deepak Srivastava, MD, of the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Research at the University of California in San Francisco.

Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, one of the leading pediatric research institutions in the nation, is dedicated to changing the outcome for children throughout the world. Cincinnati Children's ranks second among all pediatric institutions in the United States in grants from the National Institutes of Health. It has an established tradition of research excellence, with discoveries including the Sabin oral polio vaccine, the surfactant preparation that saves the lives of thousands of premature infants each year, and a rotavirus vaccine that saves the lives of hundreds of thousands of infants around the world each year. Current strategic directions include the translation of basic laboratory research into the development of novel therapeutics for the treatment of disease, and furthering the development of personalized and predictive medicine.

Contact Information

Jim Feuer, jim.feuer@cchmc.org, 513-636-4656