Allergy and Immunology

Research

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Division: 
Allergy, Immunology and Rheumatology
Director: 
Rachel L. Miller MD, FAAAAI
Email: 
rlm14@columbia.edu
Phone: 
(212) 305-7759
Administrator: 
Lazina Lorick
Phone: 
(212) 305-4930

Research by faculty in Allergy and Immunology has been diverse. Areas of investigations in recent years have included asthma, food allergy, semen allergy and urticaria. We have participated in several clinical trials of novel medications to treat allergic disease, most recently evaluating a new medication to treat a rare condition called hereditary angioneurotic edema.

Current research activities include:

  • Environmental epigenetics and asthma, allergy. The major goals are to assess the role of short-term black carbon/soot exposure, nickel and vanadium on DNA methylation of asthma genes and airway inflammation and obstruction in inner city children age 9 to 13 years. Additional studies in other cohorts will look at mouse allergen intervention and DNA methylation of asthma regulatory genes in collaboration with investigators at Harvard University and Johns Hopkins University (Rachel Miller MD) R01ES13163, R21 AI101296
  • Air pollution exposure and asthma, allergy. These projects seek to understand when and how airborne polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and diesel particles increase the risk of asthma and allergy. This work also seeks to improve clinical treatment, evaluate the success of a public policy intervention, and implement physician education initiatives as a mode of intervention. The work is in collaboration with the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health CCCEH.org (Rachel Miller MD, Associate Director, Lead Physician Scientist, Project Leader; Frederica Perera, DrPH, Director) P50 ES015905
  • Chemical (phthalates, pesticides, bisphenol A) exposure and asthma, allergy. These research projects aim to determine whether early prenatal and childhood exposure to phthalates, pesticides, bisphenol A are associated with the current asthma and proallergic immunoglobulin (Ig) E production, and whether current exposures to chemicals are associated with augmented airway inflammation and diminished lung function (Robin Whyatt, DrPH,  ES014393, RC2 ES018784; Rachel Miller, MD Thrasher Research Fund)
  • Urban Environment And Childhood Asthma (URECA): The objectives of the Inner City Asthma Consortium are to implement a long range scientific plan to reduce asthma severity and prevent asthma among inner city children, and to identify the mechanisms involved in the immunopathogenesis of asthma in these populations (Rachel Miller MD with William Busse, MD and Meyer Kattan, MD) N01-AI-90052/HHSN272200900052C
  • Phenotyping/Epigenetic studies of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon-associated T-regulatory cell impairment in asthma. In collaboration with investigators at Stanford University, the goal of this research is to further understand the link between indicators of exposure to air pollution and outcomes on asthma by studying immune system changes (T regulatory cells) in exposed subjects (Rachel Miller, MD with Kari Nadeau, MD, PhD) RO1 ES020926
  • Cellular and humoral immunodeficiencies in DiGeorge Syndrome patients: The Columbia experience. This research seeks to determine the prevalence of T cell as well as B cell immunodeficiency among a cohort of patients with DiGeorge syndrome evaluated at Columbia University Medical Center with the intent of understanding phenotypes and their prognoses (Yesim Demirdag and Collette Spalding).
  • Secondhand smoke and asthma: Mechanistic outcomes of DNA methylation in T cells (Rachel Miller MD 1R01HL118612A1 with Kari Nadeau MD PhD). The research aims to establish a novel paradigm for asthma following involuntary exposure to cigarette smoke. The results of the proposed study could make an important long-term impact in the effort to intervene early in the lives of patients to decrease and prevent the burden of asthma induced by a preventable environmental exposure.

The pediatric rheumatologists at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital are playing leading roles in clinical trials of new medications and in developing innovative treatment protocols for juvenile arthritis, dermatomyositis and childhood-onset systemic lupus erythematosus (cSLE). We also have developed regimens to help patients to function better while reducing the long-term side effects of their treatments.

A major component of research at Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital involves identifying the reason why some people develop an autoimmune disease, while others do not. This mainly involves identifying genes that determine susceptibility and how the genes act to determine disease development. The division faculty is participating in an NIH supported large national data base for 20,000 children with rheumatic diseases to help define best available treatment.

Current active studies include:

  • Gene expression profiling from peripheral blood mononuclear cells in childhood-onset systemic lupus erythematosus: This research aims to identify clinically relevant biomarkers from peripheral blood cells of childhood-onset lupus patients. The results of this project could have an important long-term impact for diagnosis and to monitor response to treatment. (Angela Christiano PhD and Joyce Hui-Yuen MD, MSc. 1T32GM082771-01A2)
  • Efficacy and safety of belimumab in childhood-onset systemic lupus erythematosus: This multi-center research study aims to determine the efficacy and safety of belimumab as treatment for childhood-onset lupus patients. (Anca Askanase MD, MPH and Joyce Hui-Yuen MD, MSc)
  • Complement binding split products (CBCAPs) as biomarker for systemic lupus erythematosus: This research aims to determine if CBCAPs will be an effective diagnostic biomarker for patients newly diagnosed with lupus, as compared to those with other autoimmune diseases. (Anca Askanase MD, MPH, Liza Mariel Bermudez and Joyce Hui-Yuen MD, MSc)
  • Efficacy and safety of high-dose infliximab in childhood-onset uveitis patients: This research aims to determine the efficacy and safety of high-dose infliximab as treatment for childhood uveitis. (Anca Askanase MD, MPH and Liza Mariel Bermudez MD)
  • Transitioning pediatric onset lupus patients to adult Rheumatology: This research aims to establish an Adolescent Lupus Clinic specifically directed toward facilitating transition from pediatric to adult Rheumatology care will improve long- term health outcomes for childhood lupus patients. (Anca Askanase MD, MPH and Liza Mariel Bermudez MD)