Asthma Research
In the News

In the News

The Division of Asthma Research provides insightful information, notable achievements and news coverage involving members of our team.


Michael Sherenian.Division of Asthma Research faculty member, Dr. Michael Sherenian was awarded the AAAAI Foundation Faculty Development award. This mentored award provides funding over a three-year period and is intended to support the development of careers in Allergy and Immunology. This award was made to further the development of junior faculty into independent investigators by funding excellent research that leads to the prevention and cure of asthma and allergic and immunologic diseases. Dr. Sherenian's objective is to determine how genetics impact the development and progression of allergic diseases.


Middleton's Allergy Textbook.Division director Dr. Gurjit Khurana Hershey, along with faculty members, Dr. Jocelyn Biagini, and Dr. Tesfaye Mersha were invited to contribute their recent findings in Asthma, Allergy and Atopic Dermatitis to the Ninth Edition of Middleton's Allergy. Middleton's Allergy has a worldwide reputation as the leading text in allergy and immunology by providing a comprehensive cover of state-of-the-art basic science as well as an authoritative guidance on the clinical concepts of day to day diagnosis and management of allergic disorders.

Dr. Gurjit Khurana Hershey, MD, PhD was recognized and awarded the Daniel Drake Medal from the University Of Cincinnati College Of Medicine on Saturday, May 18, 2019 during the college’s Honors Day Graduation Ceremony. Considered the highest honor awarded by the college, the Daniel Drake Medals are awarded based on outstanding or unique contributions to medical education, scholarship or research. As Director of the Division of Asthma Research at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Dr. Hershey is a physician scientist who has devoted her career to clinical investigation using a combination of epidemiologic, basic, translational and clinical research to answer fundamental questions regarding the environmental and genetic factors that contribute to the development of childhood asthma and the mechanisms by which these factors interact and contribute to disease.  In 2012, Dr. Hershey was appointed Director of the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) at the University Of Cincinnati College Of Medicine.  Since then, the MSTP has grown by 33%, from 43 students to 64 students. She has successfully reinstated National Institutes of Health funding for the MSTP and doubled the number of slots, and there has been a 51% increase in applications to the MSTP during her tenure, including a 178% increase in minority applications.

Daniel Drake Medal

Kristi Curtsinger, RN, BSN, BS, CCRP was nominated for the Outstanding Clinical Research Professional Award. Kristi has been a Research Nurse in Asthma Research since 2011. This award is for individuals who demonstrate excellence as a clinical research professional. The Clinical Research Professionals (CRPs) are an employee resource group whose focus is to promote and support development, education, and networking for research professionals. CRPs come from a wide variety of backgrounds including nursing, pharmacy, medical technology, business administration, health record maintenance, statistics, biology, teaching, dietetics, and other areas.

Kristi Curtsinger awarded Outstanding CRP Award

Division Director, Gurjit Khurana Hershey, MD, PhD was recognized and awarded the Cincinnati Children’s Faculty Research Achievement Award, Senior Category for her excellence in pediatric asthma, allergy and immunology, genetics, and environmental health. Her work has significantly contributed to our understanding of the pathogenesis of asthma, with more than 170 publications in top journals, including over a dozen papers in 2017. Her studies have significantly advanced our basic knowledge about IL-4/IL-13 signaling pathways, and the immunomodulatory roles of allergens and other exposures.

Dr. Hershey receives her award.


Faculty member, Tesfaye Mersha, PhD, was appointed by the NIH to serve in the Genetics of Health and Disease (GHD) study section for 2018-2024. The GHD study section will review applications involving the discovery, application and interpretation of genetic and genomic variation in human phenotype and disease. Dr. Mersha is an Associate Professor at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, where he leads the Population Genetics, Ancestry, and Bioinformatics (pGAB) Laboratory.

Dr. Tesfaye Mersha.

Kevin Titus, was selected as a Distinguished Faculty of the Society of Research Administrators International. Distinguished faculty serve as expert consultants and speakers in the field of research administration. The SRA International’s Distinguished Faculty (DF) program is comprised of professionals in the field of research administration who help SRA International achieve its mission goals:

  • The education of research administrators, professionals in related fields, and the public through the exchange of information, individual contacts, professional presentations, formal and informal meetings and publications.
  • The improvement of communication among researchers, host institutions and organizations, the sponsors of research, research administrators and the general public.
    Kevin was also appointed to the SRA International Board of Directors for a one-year term.

Kevin Titus.

For clinicians and researchers, the ability to predict which children will develop asthma can be a challenging task. The most widely used current asthma prediction tool, the Asthma Predictive Index (API), uses a combination of major and minor criteria to give a yes or no answer as to whether a child will develop asthma. While this tool is excellent at predicting which children will not develop asthma, it has a very low predictability for which children will go on to develop asthma. In order to determine a child’s distinct asthma risk based on their own unique risk factors, a more personalized prediction tool is needed. Utilizing data from the Cincinnati Childhood Allergy and Air Pollution Study (CCAAPS) birth cohort, Dr. Biagini Myers and Dr. Khurana Hershey developed a new, personalized and predictive asthma risk tool called the Pediatric Asthma Risk Score (PARS):

  • PARS is calculated by answering just six questions about parental asthma, eczema, early wheezing, wheezing apart from cold, race and sensitization.
  • PARS scores range from 1-14 and correspond to an asthma risk (by 7 years of age) ranging from 3% to 79%.
  • PARS is superior to the API with an 11% increase in the ability to detect children that will develop asthma, specifically children with mild-to-moderate asthma risk. These are arguably the children most likely to respond to prevention strategies.
  • PARS was replicated in the Isle of Wight birth cohort, a population recruited 10 years prior to CCAAPS on a different continent, demonstrating its robustness.

PARS is the most accurate asthma predictive tool to-date applicable in an office setting. PARS is available as a web application at: and is also available for download in the Apple App Store and on Google Play.

Asthma Research team showing PARS app.

Asthma Research team members showcasing the new PARS mobile application. Pictured left to right:
Row 1: J. Biagini Myers, L. Martin, T. Gonzalez, A. Baatyrbek kyzy, X. Ren, D. Spagna, A. Kothari, L. Murrison, G. Khurana Hershey
Row 2: A. Herr, J. Kroner, G. Hill, T. Mersha, M. Sherenian

Division Director Dr. Gurjit Khurana Hershey, MD, PhD was recognized and awarded a plaque for her 4 years of service as a member of the advisory council of the NIAID (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases). The NIAID has established a reputation for being on the cutting edge of scientific progress both through its intramural labs and through the research it funds at academic institutions. The NIAID conducts and supports basic and applied research to better understand, treat, and ultimately prevent infectious, immunologic, and allergic diseases.

Asthma Research NIAID group photo.

NIAID Departing Advisory Council Members
Pictured Left to Right: (1) Dr. Amanda D. Castel, M.D., MPH (2) Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, MD, NIAID Director (3) Dr. John C. Guatelli, M.D., (4) Dr. Stephen J. Galli, M.D. and (5) Dr. Gurjit K. Khurana Hershey, M.D., PhD.

John Kroner.Division of Asthma Research Clinical Data Management Specialist was elected the Chair of Clinical Research Professionals. The Clinical Research Professionals (CRP) is an employee resource group whose focus is to promote and support development, education, and networking for research professionals. CRP members enjoy opportunities to:

  • Explore career pathways and advancement options
  • Influence research related policies and procedures
  • Access new and unique learning opportunities
  • Develop leadership skills


Tes Mersha receiving his award.Since joining Cincinnati Childrens, Dr. Mersha has distinguished himself by establishing an independent research program and successfully securing extramural funding. Dr. Mersha’s research combines quantitative ancestral and statistical genomics to unravel genetic and non-genetic contributions to complex diseases and racial disparities in human populations.

Watch the video of Dr. Mersha’s acceptance of the Research Achievement Award.


Tesfaye Mersha, PhD's headshot.Division of Asthma Research faculty member Tesfaye B. Mersha, PhD, was featured and highlighted in April’s Office of Academic Affairs and Career Development (OAACD) Publication “Faculty Flash”. Tesfaye Mersha, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Asthma Research who joined Cincinnati Children’s in 2009 after completing his Postdoctoral Fellowship in Statistical and Human Genetics at the University of Alabama and Medical College of Wisconsin. Dr. Mersha was born in Ethiopia, and he believes Cincinnati Children’s is an excellent place for team science – from basic to translational scientists, all are vital to child health. Read the full article on Dr. Mersha and highlights of his research career and to learn more about the OAACD.

On Monday January 11, 2016, the Jovante Woods Foundation donated $100,000 to Cincinnati Children’s Division of Asthma Research towards the ongoing research efforts to improve asthma in the lives of kids. The check was presented by Ickey Woods, Jovante’s father and also a former player for the Cincinnati Bengals. Additionally, during the check presentation on behalf of the division, Director Dr. Khurana Hershey presented the foundation with a plaque in honor of Jovante which will be displayed in the lobby of the Division of Asthma Research. View more pictures from the presentation here.

The Woods family presents a check to the Asthma research team.


Director Dr. Khurana Hershey was featured in the Cincy Magazine December issue titled “Best Doctors”. In the article she discusses current research being conducted on asthma and allergies as well as the highlights of some of her recent accomplishments, including receiving the World Allergy Organization Scientific Achievement Award for her work.  Read the full story in Cincy Magazine.

InTheNews-Mersha-160x200Tesfaye Mersha, PhD was awarded with the inaugural Diversity & Health Disparities grant. The Diversity & Health Disparities Research Award is a two-year grant that provides research funds for faculty members all over Cincinnati Children’s.

Faculty recipients of this award are underrepresented minorities and/or have a strong commitment to health disparities research. The award is a component of the Office of Faculty Development’s diversity strategic plan. The Diversity & Health Disparities Research Award's long-term objective is to promote the career development of underrepresented faculty to enhance the health disparities research effort at Cincinnati Children’s.

Director Gurjit Khurana Hershey, MD, PhD was interviewed by regarding the release of the study findings discussed in the publication titled Vanin-1 expression and methylation discriminate pediatrics asthma corticosteroid treatment response published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. The study sought to identify biomarkers of corticosteroid treatment response in children with asthma & evaluate the utility and mechanistic basis of these biomarkers. Researchers in the Khurana Hershey Lab have identified a biological basis for poor corticosteroid treatment response that can be used to distinguish a subgroup of asthmatic children who respond poorly to systemic corticosteroid treatment. Read more at

During a press conference held in Columbus, Ohio on March 27, 2012, Gov. Kasich announced that the state would provide $2 million in funding to two separate research projects. From the $2 million provided, $1 million of this funding went towards childhood asthma research. On April 9, 2015, Gov. Kasich pledged an additional $1 million for a second round of collaborative research. Read more on the story.

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On February 11th, 2015 as part of the CVS commitment to helping the community lead a tobacco-free life, CVS Health presented the Cincinnati Children’s Smoking Cessation Clinic with a $50,000 donation.  The CVS Health grant was given to the Smoking Cessation Clinic with the intent to support an Assistant Fund that will make it possible for uninsured patients and underinsured patients to receive services offered by the clinic.   A portion of the grant will also be used for outreach efforts through Cradle Cincinnati to reach more at-risk families.


Melinda Butsch Kovacic, PhD, MPH an associate professor in the Division of Asthma Research was presented with the Service Achievement Award by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Her passion for improving children’s health extends far beyond the walls of the research building.  Dr. Bustch Kovacic serves as a leader of CoreChange’s Child Health Advocacy Group and the Findlay Street Center, where she initiated a youth-oriented leadership project she calls “Coaching on Achieving Community Health”.  Her laboratory work quantifies the environment’s impact on chronic disease in children, but her most important discovery is that face-to-face research provides the most reliable data.

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inthenews-mahabeeCradle Cincinnati is a collective partnership of health and civic leaders in Hamilton County that invest in changing three things about the community: 1.) preventing prematurity by increasing the amount of time between each woman’s pregnancies, 2.) reducing tobacco use & other substance abuse in pregnancy, 3.) promoting safe sleep for babies.  Cradle Cincinnati recently posted a blog on January 26, 2015 promoting the new Smoking Cessation Clinic.  This clinic is one of the first of its kind is led by faculty member Dr. Melinda Mahabee-Gittens opened in late 2014.  The need for the establishment of a Smoking Cessation Clinic at Cincinnati Children’s came about after a substantial and programmatic line of research was conducted by researchers in the Division of Asthma Research. Click here to read the blog post.   


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