Allergic diseases including asthma, eczema, and food allergy have increased substantially over the last few decades. These diseases affect almost 5% of the population and have an annual economic burden of over 80 billion dollars. Allergic reactions can be life-threatening. While we have learned much about how an allergic reaction occurs, much remains unknown about how allergies develop.

Genetic predisposition is important in developing allergies, but few defined mutations in specific genes are known to cause allergic disease. Recently, we conducted an allergy screen in mutagenized mice to discover genes that regulate the production of allergen-specific IgE, which mediates allergic reactions. With funding from the Disease Oriented Clinical Scholars program (DOCS) at UT Southwestern, this lab will study the genetics of allergy in mice and humans.

Mouse Genetics

The first ever forward genetic screen of allergy in mice identified multiple genes regulating higher IgE- a first step in developing an allergy. We next are determining the mechanism of how each mutant influences IgE production using molecular biology, biochemistry, and cellular immunology in genetically modified mouse models.

Specifically, a mutation affecting glycosylation has been funded by the NIH.

Human Genetics

Active collaboration with the Children's Food Allergy Center allows us to take our studies to the bedside gaining important insights from actual patients. We collaborate with Dr. Drew Bird and Dr. Chris Parrish with pilot funds from the Thrasher Research Foundation to discover genes that cause food allergies.