My research activities focus on defining the environmental and genetic determinants of allergic airway diseases such as asthma. My lab members and I have specifically explored the role of CD4+ Th2 cells and cytokines (IL-13), and innate immune pathways (complement activation pathways, TLRs, CLRs), in the pathogenesis of asthma. I have made substantial contributions to our understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying allergenicity of common allergens-specifically how allergens and airborne pollutants activate innate immune pathways through molecular mimicry (Nature). More recently, I have turned my attention to how the gut microbiome alters susceptibility to allergen and PM-induced asthma.
Wills-Karp M, Rani R, Dienger K, Lewkowich I, Fox JG, Perkins C, Lewis L, Finkelman FD, Smith DE, Bryce PJ, Kurt-Jones EA, Wang TC, Sivaprasad U, Hershey GK, Herbert DR. Trefoil factor 2 rapidly induces interleukin 33 to promote type 2 immunity during allergic asthma and hookworm infection. J Exp Med. 2012 PubMed PMID: 22329990.
Lajoie S, Lewkowich IP, Suzuki Y, Clark JR, Sproles AA, Dienger K, Budelsky AL, Wills-Karp M. Complement-mediated regulation of the IL-17A axis is a central genetic determinant of the severity of experimental allergic asthma. Nat Immunol. 2010 PubMed PMID: 20802484.
Köhl J, Baelder R, Lewkowich IP, Pandey MK, Hawlisch H, Wang L, Best J, Herman NS, Sproles AA, Zwirner J, Whitsett JA, Gerard C, Sfyroera G, Lambris JD, Wills-Karp M. A regulatory role for the C5a anaphylatoxin in type 2 immunity in asthma. J Clin Invest. 2006 PubMed PMID: 16511606.
Karp CL, Grupe A, Schadt E, Ewart SL, Keane-Moore M, Cuomo PJ, Köhl J, Wahl L, Kuperman D, Germer S, Aud D, Peltz G, Wills-Karp M. Identification of complement factor 5 as a susceptibility locus for experimental allergic asthma. Nat Immunol. 2000 PubMed PMID: 10973279.
Wills-Karp M, Luyimbazi J, Xu X, Schofield B, Neben TY, Karp CL, Donaldson DD. Interleukin-13: central mediator of allergic asthma. Science. 1998 PubMed PMID: 9856949.