Dr. Risma is a physician scientist with a broad background in molecular immunology, molecular biology, and translational research applications. She completed an MD and PhD in pharmacology from Case Western Reserve University (CWRU), followed by clinical training in pediatrics and fellowship training in allergy/immunology (both at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center). During fellowship, she received postdoctoral training in immunology focused on understanding the relationship between defects in lymphocyte cytotoxicity and the development of hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) under the mentorship of Drs. Janos Sumegi and Alexandra Filipovich. She joined the faculty in the Division of Allergy and Immunology at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in 2005 under the leadership of Dr. Marc Rothenberg, division director. Dr. Risma’s research as a faculty member has utilized basic, translational, and genetic approaches to explore the relationship between defects in lymphocyte cytotoxicity and the pathogenesis of a pediatric disorder of immune dysregulation, hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH). She has expert knowledge of the mechanism by which natural killer and cytotoxic T lymphocytes utilize to kill tumor target cells.
In addition to research, she is a clinician, seeing patients from all around the country in consultation for primary immune deficiency, immune dysregulation, and allergic disorders, particularly adverse drug reactions. Dr. Risma directs the Drug Allergy Program. She has also had extensive experience as an educator and mentor of postdoctoral fellows, graduate and undergraduates in the laboratory as well as clinical trainees at the bedside. Since August 2012, she has served as director of the Allergy and Immunology Fellowship Program at University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.