A photo of Karen McDowell.

Director, Pulmonary Function Lab

Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics



Board Certified

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"I believe that patient care is a partnership — a treatment plan will be successful only if parents and the patient are engaged."

My Biography & Research


I was inspired to be a pediatric pulmonologist while working on a summer research project during my first year of medical school. I love the physiology of the lungs and how they are affected by so many other body systems. Understanding respiratory diseases involves having a basic knowledge of infectious disease, ENT (ear, nose and throat), GI (gastrointestinal) and cardiology.

I adore working with children because they have a unique perspective and bring joy to life. One of the most rewarding aspects of being a doctor is helping parents understand their child’s breathing issues, how to help them get better and stay healthy from a pulmonary perspective.

As a pediatric pulmonologist, associate director of the Asthma Center and director of the Pulmonary Function Lab, I treat children and adolescents who have asthma, especially severe and difficult-to-treat asthma. I believe that patient care is a partnership — a treatment plan will be successful only if parents and the patient are engaged. Decisions about the best treatment for any patient requires patient and parent input and participation.

In my practice, we provide an in-depth and personalized approach to asthma with a multidisciplinary team of providers with asthma expertise, including respiratory therapists, nurses, doctors, social workers, psychologists and dieticians. We individualize care by identifying individual asthma phenotypes and responses to medications.

I am also heavily involved in quality and process improvement. We are constantly striving to improve delivery of our care.

In my free time I can be found walking, playing with my dog, spending time with my family, doing crossword puzzles, cooking and reading. I love the mountains in the summer and a warm beach in the winter.

Clinical Interests

Asthma; flexible bronchoscopy; general pediatric pulmonology; quality improvement methodologies; infant pulmonary function test

Research Interests

Clinical asthma research; quality improvement methodologies; infant pulmonary function test

Academic Affiliation

Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics

Clinical Divisions

Pulmonary Medicine, Asthma, Home Ventilator, Pulmonary Function, Rare Lung Diseases

Research Divisions

Pulmonary Medicine

My Locations

My Education

BS: College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA, 1983.

MS: University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, 1986.

MD: Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA, 1990.

Residency: Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, Cleveland, OH.

Fellowship: Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, Cleveland, OH.

Certification: Pediatric Pulmonology, 1996.

My Publications

Feasibility and Preliminary Validity of Mobile Spirometry in Pediatric Asthma. Ramsey, RR; Plevinsky, JM; Milgrim, L; Hommel, KA; McDowell, KM; Shepard, J; Guilbert, TW. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice. 2021.

Preventing asthma in high risk kids (PARK) with omalizumab: Design, rationale, methods, lessons learned and adaptation. Phipatanakul, W; Mauger, DT; Guilbert, TW; Bacharier, LB; Durrani, S; Jackson, DJ; Martinez, FD; Fitzpatrick, AM; Cunningham, A; Kunselman, S; et al. Controlled Clinical Trials. 2021; 100.

Lung function testing in children. McDowell, K; Guilbert, TW. In: Leung DYM; Adkis CA; Bacharier LB, Ed. Pediatric Allergy: Principles and Practice Principles and Practice. Philadelphia: Elsevier; 2020.

Telehealth delivery of adherence and medication management system improves outcomes in inner-city children with asthma. Lin, NY; Ramsey, RR; Miller, JL; McDowell, KM; Zhang, N; Hommel, K; Guilbert, TW. Pediatric Pulmonology. 2020; 55:858-865.

Stepwise Pharmacological Approach to Severe Childhood Asthma. St. Onge, I; McDowell, KM; Guilbert, TW. Severe Asthma in Children and Adolescents. 2020.

Respiratory Medications in Infants <29 Weeks during the First Year Postdischarge: The Prematurity and Respiratory Outcomes Program (PROP) Consortium. Ryan, RM; Keller, RL; Poindexter, BB; D'Angio, CT; Shaw, PA; Bellamy, SL; Moore, PE; McPherson, C; Greenberg, JM; Chougnet, C; et al. Journal of Pediatrics. 2019; 208:148-155.e3.

Recent Diagnosis Techniques in Pediatric Asthma: Impulse Oscillometry in Preschool Asthma and Use of Exhaled Nitric Oxide. McDowell, KM. Immunology and Allergy Clinics of North America. 2019; 39:205-219.

Black Race Is Associated with a Lower Risk of Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia. Ryan, RM; Feng, R; Bazacliu, C; Ferkol, TW; Ren, CL; Mariani, TJ; Poindexter, BB; Wang, F; Moore, PE; Chougnet, C; et al. Journal of Pediatrics. 2019; 207:130-135.e2.

45 Wheezing in Older Children Asthma. Kercsmar, CM; Mcdowell, KM. Kendig's Disorders of the Respiratory Tract in Children. 2019.

Exome sequencing identifies gene variants and networks associated with extreme respiratory outcomes following preterm birth. Hamvas, A; Feng, R; Bi, Y; Wang, F; Bhattacharya, S; Mereness, J; Kaushal, M; Cotten, CM; Ballard, PL; Mariani, TJ; et al. BMC Genetics. 2018; 19.