Physician-Scientist Earns Schmidlapp Scholar Award For Research

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Kimberly Risma, MD, PhD, has been selected to receive a Schmidlapp Scholar Award from the Fifth Third Bank / Charlotte R. Schmidlapp Women Scholars Program. The $100,000 honor is given annually to a female faculty member at Cincinnati Children's.

Dr. Risma is the 14th scholar to receive the Schmidlapp Scholar Award since its inception in 1997. The goal of the award is to identify junior female faculty members who show promise and leadership skills, to provide them with financial support and dedicated time for research, and to help them through the tenure and promotion process.

A physician in the division of allergy and immunology, Dr. Risma focuses her research on understanding how lymphocytes kill target cells by secretion of toxic proteins.

"Our research is motivated by clinical observations—children who are born with impaired cellular immunity may present with severe inflammatory diseases or recurrent infections," she says. "By delineating the molecular mechanisms that have gone awry in children with defects in lymphocyte killing, we hope to design novel treatments for the future."

In addition to her research, Dr. Risma sees patients from around the nation in consultation for primary immune deficiency, immune dysregulation, and allergic disorders.

Dr. Risma earned a PhD at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland in 1996 and an MD at Case Western in 1997. She completed a pediatric residency at Cincinnati Children's in 2000 and a fellowship in allergy and immunology at Cincinnati Children's in 2005. She joined the division of allergy and immunology in 2005.

Cincinnati Children's established the Fifth Third Bank / Charlotte R. Schmidlapp Women Scholars Program with a $500,000 grant from the Charlotte R. Schmidlapp Fund, Fifth Third Bank, Trustee. The program is believed to be the first of its kind in the United States.

"Children's is fortunate to be able to offer this award," says Lorah Dorn, who chairs the Schmidlapp Scholar Award Selection Committee. "The award has provided a key component for helping a number of very outstanding women advance in their research careers.

The Charlotte R. Schmidlapp Fund was created in 1907 by a gift from former Fifth Third president Jacob G. Schmidlapp in memory of his daughter, Charlotte, who died at the age of 19. Mr. Schmidlapp directed that grants be restricted to helping women establish themselves in life. The tradition and history of the fund has been to assist women by helping them gain an education and access to services.

Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center is one of America's top three children's hospitals for general pediatrics and is highly ranked for its expertise in digestive diseases, respiratory diseases, cancer, neonatal care, heart care and neurosurgery, according to the annual ranking of best children's hospitals by U.S. News & World Report. One of the three largest children's hospitals in the U.S., Cincinnati Children's is affiliated with the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and is one of the top two recipients of pediatric research grants from the National Institutes of Health.

For its achievements in transforming healthcare, Cincinnati Children's is one of six U.S. hospitals since 2002 to be awarded the American Hospital Association-McKesson Quest for Quality Prize ® for leadership and innovation in quality, safety and commitment to patient care. The hospital is a national and international referral center for complex cases, so that children with the most difficult-to-treat diseases and conditions receive the most advanced care leading to better outcomes.

Contact Information

Jim Feuer, 513-636-4656,