Defending the lung from microbial pathogens is a lifelong challenge, the trajectory of which depends on the development of a robust but metered innate and acquired immune system. My research program explores the paradigm that education of pulmonary immunity and the ability to repair pulmonary tissues after infection begins in the early perinatal period — and is influenced by systemic, gastrointestinal and pulmonary exposures to resident and pathological microbes.
Highlights of my findings include:
- How commensal bacteria prime the 'granulopoietic response' in newborns [Nature Medicine (PMID: 24747744) (Recommended by F1000 prime)]
- How early-life antibiotic use triggers immune maladaptation, which continues well into adulthood [Science Translational Medicine (PMID: 28179507) (Recommended by F1000 prime)]
- Clarifying the complex interactions between commensal bacteria, lung epithelial maturation and expansion of lung resident immune cells in newborns [Immunity (PMID: 32075728) and Nature Communication (PIMD: 30604742)]
My research activities are funded by multiple grants from the National Institutes of Health. These include studies on how commensal bacteria are important in lung maturation (R01HL142708) and development of lung mucosal immunity (R01AI138553); mapping unique immune cell niches in the developing lung (R01HL96518); and understanding how fetal inflammation disrupts postnatal development of lung immunity (U01 ES029234).
As a board-certified neonatologist, I provide intensive medical care to preterm neonates in the neonatal intensive care unit at Cincinnati Children’s. I participate in day-to-day management of critically ill infants, attend high-risk deliveries, provide supportive care of infants from birth and perform medical procedures as needed.
I am also actively involved in medical student, resident and fellow education and training. I am the site leader for our institution’s Chronic Lung Disease Reduction initiative. In this role, I lead a multidisciplinary team of physicians, trainees, nurses and respiratory therapists; our long-term goal is to reduce the risk of chronic lung diseases in preterm infants at Cincinnati Children’s.
Finally, I am passionate about pediatric physician-scientist training and development. I am the associate director of the Child Health Research Development Award (K12). I also serve on the Perinatal Medicine Fellowship Committee and mentor immunology graduate students in the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP). My trainees have won the Marshall Klaus Award from the American Academy of Pediatrics as well as the Sabin Fellow Award. Graduates have gone on to pursue careers in academic medicine at many teaching hospitals, including Cincinnati Children’s.