I have a broad background of clinical training in Pediatrics, with specific training and expertise in Allergy and Immunology. My interest in cedar pollen allergy started as a resident in Pediatrics in Japan when I joined the Bisan Atmospheric Pollen Society. We noticed there were pollens of different species from Japanese cedar and cypress, and began examining the allergenicity of the pollens, using skin tests in children with asthma. I detected a new allergen in Japanese juniper pollen that proved to be as important an allergen as Japanese cedar pollen. I joined the Child Health Research Center (CHRC) at UTMB in 1995 to further characterize the allergens of mountain cedar pollen. As a postdoctoral fellow, I have isolated, cloned and identified IgE epitopes of two major allergens in mountain cedar, Jun a 1 and Jun a 3. Collaboration with the Structural Biology group in the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), we have crystallized one of the major allergens and modeled the other, and mapped the epitopes. After being recruited to the faculty at CHRC, I expanded my research to include analysis of conformational epitopes of the allergens with a support of K08 Clinical Scientist Development Award from NIAID and Biomedical Research Award from American Lung Association. I have also developed and analyzed an animal model of asthma with the support of R21 Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant Award from NIEHS.
As a PI, or Co-Investigator, on several previous university- and NIH-funded grants, I primed the groundwork for the proposed research on a new strategy of development of allergy vaccines. In addition, I successfully collaborated with other researchers, and produced several peer-reviewed publications from each project. As a result of these previous experiences, I am aware of the importance of frequent communication among project members and of constructing a realistic research plan, timeline, and budget. The current application builds logically on my prior work. In summary, I have a demonstrated record of successful and productive research projects in an area of high relevance for our population, and my expertise and experience have prepared me to lead the proposed project.