• Meet the Khurana Hershey Lab

    Division of Asthma Research group photo.

  • A photo of Dr. Gurjit Khurana Hershey.Gurjit Khurana Hershey, MD, PhD
    Director of Division of Asthma Research

    Gurjit Khurana Hershey, MD, PhD, received a BS degree from the University of Iowa, and MD and PhD degrees from Washington University School of Medicine. After completing pediatric residency and an allergy/immunology fellowship at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, Dr. Khurana Hershey joined the faculty of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. She now directs the Division of Asthma Research at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and is the director of the Medical Scientist Training Program at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.

    In addition to her clinical duties, Dr. Khurana Hershey directs an NIH-funded research program focused on delineating the genetic and environmental factors that promote asthma / allergy phenotypes and on dissecting the mechanisms by which they confer risk. Her research has been continuously funded for over sixteen years. She is the principal investigator of an NIH-funded Asthma and Allergic Diseases Cooperative Research Center (AADCRC), and is also the PI of the Inner City Asthma Consortium, an NIH funded subcontract. She is the PI of the UC T32 MSTP training grant. In addition to her research contributions, she is an outstanding clinician and teacher/mentor. Several of her trainees now hold academic faculty positions. She is the recipient of the 2013 Cincinnati Children’s Educational Achievement Award.

    Dr. Khurana Hershey is a fellow member of the American Pediatric Society, American Society for Clinical Investigation and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. She serves on the Executive Council of the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology Program Committee, is the chair of the Grant Review Committee and appointed vice chair of the Basic and Immunology Interest Section. She is a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. She was recently named One of the Five Leading Women in Healthcare in the Greater Cincinnati Metropolitan Area and Outstanding Woman at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

    gurjit.hershey@cchmc.org

  • Post-Doctoral Fellows / Research Associates

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    A photo of Eric Brandt. Eric Brandt, PhD
    Research Associate

    Eric received his PhD in immunology at the Pasteur Institute (Lillie, France). He joined the Khurana Hershey Lab in 2008. Eric’s current research in the Khurana Hershey Lab is investigating the contribution of innate and adaptive immune response in animal models of atopic dermatitis and asthma. He utilizes house dust mite (HDM) and diesel exhaust particles (DEP) provided by the EPA, to focus on unraveling the mechanisms leading to DEP-induced exacerbation of asthma. His notable findings included the contribution of DEP-induced IL17A to disease exacerbation.

    eric.brandt@cchmc.org

    hanna-200Hanna (Lisa) M Elisabet Johansson, PhD
    Research Associate

    Hanna completed her PhD in applied biochemistry from the University of Lund, Sweden. She joined the Khurana Hershey Lab in 2014. Hanna’s current research in the Khurana Hershey Lab includes identifying genetic markers differentially associated with childhood allergic disorders; mainly asthma, allergic rhinitis and atopic dermatitis. A case- control genetic association approach is being used, in which a total of 769 SNPs in 80 genes are genotyped using a custom array. In addition, her research also aims at characterizing epistatic and environmental interactions that modulate the effects of candidate genes.

    hanna.johansson@cchmc.org

    A photo of Zhonghua Zhang.Zhonghua (John) Zhang, MD, PhD
    Research Associate

    Zhonghua received his Medical Degree and MS in pathology from Shanghai Medical University and his PhD in cancer biology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He joined the Khurana Hershey Lab in 2010. Zhonghua’s current research in the Khurana Hershey Lab includes delineating the immunomodulatory role of environmental exposures including allergens. In a recent paper he investigated the effects of EGF on human innate immunity and immune pattering, and its protective role in the pathogenesis of allergic diseases, specifically atopic dermatitis (AD) and asthma. In addition, he conducts research using mouse models to uncover the synergistic roles of multiple allergens to induced asthma.

    zhonghua.zhang@cchmc.org

  • Research Nurses

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    A photo of Annette Blust.

    Annette Blust RN, BSN, CPN
    Research Nurse

    Annette received her Bachelor of Nursing from University of Cincinnati. She is currently pursuing a Family Nurse Practitioner degree from Indiana Wesleyan University and is nearing her practicum in her nurse practitioner program. She joined the Khurana Hershey Lab in 2014. Annette is a research nurse for the Inner City Asthma Consortium (ICAC) trials and is responsible for performing participant visits including, but not limited to PFTs, induced sputum challenges, methacholine challenges, processing nasal epithelial samples and managing participant records. She also helps manage participant’s asthma care while on the ICAC clinical trials. In her free time she enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading and watching movies.

    annette.blust@cchmc.org

    A photo of Kristi Curtsinger.Kristi Curtsinger RN, BSN, BS
    Research Nurse

    Kristi received her Bachelor of Science in molecular biology from the College of Mount St. Joseph and her Bachelor of Nursing form the University of Cincinnati. She joined the Khurana Hershey Lab in 2011. Kristi is a research nurse for the Inner City Asthma Consortium (ICAC) trials and is responsible for performing participant visits including, but not limited to PFTs, induced sputum challenges, methacholine challenges, processing nasal epithelial samples and managing participant records. She also helps manage participant’s asthma care while on the ICAC clinical trials. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her children and reading.

    kristi.curtsinger@cchmc.org

    A photo of Lisa Henkes.Lisa Henkes, RN, ADN
    Research Nurse

    Lisa received her associate's degree from the University of Cincinnati. She is currently pursuing her BSN through the University of Cincinnati. Lisa joined the Khurana Hershey Lab in 2015. Lisa is research nurse for the Inner City Asthma Consortium (ICAC) trials and is responsible for performing participant visits including, but not limited to PFTs, induced sputum challenges, methacholine challenges, processing nasal epithelial samples and managing participant records. She also helps manage participants' asthma care while on the ICAC clinical trials. In her free time she enjoys spending time with family and friends, weekend trips, scuba diving and reading.

    lisa.henkes@cchmc.org

  • Project Specialists

    A photo of Steve Austin.Stephen (Steve) Austin, BS
    Senior Specialist-Project Management

    Steve received a Bachelor of Science in exercise science and athletic training from Marquette University. He joined the Khurana Hershey Lab in 2012. Steve is a senior project specialist who is responsible for managing multiple clinical research studies including, the Statewide Pediatric Asthma Repository, the Inner City Asthma Consortium (ICAC), the local Cincinnati Children's asthma/allergy repository and other investigator initiated. In his free time he enjoys working on projects around the house, relaxing with his wife and dog, traveling, and watching and playing sports.

    stephen.austin@cchmc.org

  • Research Assistants

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    A photo of Stacey Bass.Stacey Bass
    Research Assistant II

    Stacey graduated from Mt. Healthy High School. She joined the Khurana Hershey Lab in 2008. Stacey is a research assistant who is responsible for maintaining and performing experiments within the animal colony. She is also responsible for processing clinical patient samples and performs other general lab duties. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her family and taking pictures.

    stacey.bass@cchmc.org

    Brittany Bayne's head shot.Brittany Bayne, BS
    Research Assistant II

    Brittany received her Bachelor of Science in Biology from University of Cincinnati. She joined the Khurana Hershey Lab in 2016. Brittany is a Research Assistant who is responsible for maintaining and monitoring the beginning stages of an organizational system for all frozen specimens. She is also responsible for completing ordering and completing inventory for the lab. In her spare time she enjoys being a tutor in City Gospel Whiz Kids program, camping, hiking, and doing crafts such as crochet, mesh wreaths and scrapbooking.

    brittany.bayne@cchmc.org

    A photo of Brandy Ruff.Brandy Ruff, AS, RLAT
    Research Assistant II

    Brandy received her Associate of Science from Cincinnati State and is currently pursing on a Bachelor of Arts in human sciences from Columbia College. Brandy is also a registered laboratory animal technician. She joined the Khurana Hershey Lab in 2012. Brandy is a research assistant who is responsible for managing the animal colony in the lab, performing and setting up experiments for asthma and AD models. She is also responsible for maintaining Animal use Protocol and IBC addendums and renewals. In her free she enjoys spending time with her family.

    brandy.day@cchmc.org

  • Clinical Research Coordinators

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    A photo of Kelly Bryan.Kelly Bryan, BA
    Clinical Research Coordinator II

    Kelly received her Bachelor of Arts in psychological sciences with an area of concentration in education at Northern Kentucky University. She joined the Khurana Hershey Lab in 2014. Kelly is a clinical research coordinator for the Greater Cincinnati Pediatric Clinic Repository (GCPCR) study and is responsible for recruiting, enrolling and following up with participants. In addition, she collects clinical data and bio-specimens from study participants. She also performs data and records management and organizational task for the study. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her family and church family and engaging in outdoor activities such as biking, hiking, skiing and playing tennis.

    kelly.bryan@cchmc.org

    A photo of Kyle Connolly.Kyle Connolly, MS, BS, CCRP
    Clinical Research Coordinator II

    Kyle received his Bachelor of Science in marketing from Xavier University and his Master of Science in marketing from the University of Cincinnati. He joined the Khurana Hershey Lab in 2012. Kyle is a clinical research coordinator for the Inner City Asthma Consortium (ICAC) trials and is responsible for recruiting and enrolling patients in the study. In his free time he enjoys working out and playing rugby.

    kyle.connolly@cchmc.org

  • Students

    A photo of Paige Bolcas.Paige Bolcas
    Student - Clinical

    Paige received her Bachelor of Science in biology with a minor in chemistry from Xavier University. Paige currently attends the University of Cincinnati where she is pursuing a PhD and is enrolled in the Immunology Graduate Program through Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. She joined the Khurana Hershey Lab in 2014 and her current project in the lab is on understanding the role of vitamin D as it plays in the context of asthma. In her free time Paige enjoys hiking and reading the classics.

    paige.bolcas@cchmc.org