Role and Regulation of TSLP in Childhood Allergic Disease: Gurjit Khurana Hershey, MD, PhD

Dr. Khurana Hershey was recently awarded a National Institutes of Health funded R01. The skin makes thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) and is an important risk factor in developing Atopic Dermatitis (AD) allergies in asthma. Common genetic TSLP differences in people are also associated with allergies, asthma and AD. In this study, we hope to determine how barrier defects in the skin influence TSLP generation. The expectation is to find a correlation between skin damage and barrier dysfunction with TSLP generation and ultimately asthma development in children.

Mechanisms of Progression of Atopic Dermatitis to Asthma in Children (M-PAACH): Jocelyn Biagini Myers, PhD; Gurjit Khurana Hershey, MD, PhD

Drs. Biagini Myers and Khurana Hershey have established a new cohort to recruit 500 toddlers with eczema. This cohort is part of their National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases funded Asthma and Allergic Diseases Center U19 grant. Researchers will follow these children for a period of five years to determine the factors that promote pediatric asthma in children with atopic dermatitis.

Unraveling Ancestry and Environmental Exposure Interactions: Tesfaye B. Mersha, PhD

Dr. Mersha successfully competed for an National Institutes of Health funded R01. Despite advances in asthma care, the burden of asthma is disproportionately high among minority children, in particular children of African descent. African American hospitalization is four times more likely and seven times more likely to die from asthma than non-African Americans. It is unclear whether this disparity solely represents differences in environmental exposures, genetic predisposition, or a combination of both. To address these gaps, Dr. Mersha’s research program receives support from both federal and institutional grant funding including an R01 award. A major focus of Mersha’s laboratory has been to determine to what extent asthma risk in African American children is: 1) determined by genetic ancestry in African Americans mixed with varying African or European ancestry, and 2) modified by environmental exposure risk factors and their interactions. The goal of this study is to use a well-characterized population of African American children, including banked DNA samples, to study the interplay between genetics, ancestry and environment that contribute to asthma risk.