Research Interests

Food Allergy Research

Immune mechanisms of desensitization and tolerance through oral immunotherapy (OIT). We are investigating potential role of diverse immune cell subsets, which are important in achieving desensitization and eventual tolerance (sustained unresponsiveness) to food allergens. This is being studied using the blood and tissue samples from food allergic study participants undergoing distinct modes of immunotherapy.

Development of better and safer tools for food allergy diagnosis. Oral food challenge (OFC), the current gold standard for clinical diagnosis of food allergy, poses challenges to patient safety and requires extensive clinical oversight. We are collaborating with colleagues from the department of bioengineering at Stanford University to develop novel methods and tools, employing microfluidics and proteomics. We hope that these techniques and tools would eventually replace oral food challenge as safer, simpler, and more accurate alternatives.

Investigating novel therapeutics that target the underlying allergic pathways for the treatment of food allergy. We are studying the use of exciting and innovative therapeutics such as omalizumab and dupilumab for the treatment of food allergy. Many of these therapeutics have already shown promise for other allergic diseases such as asthma, atopic dermatitis, and eosinophilic esophagitis. Our goal is to bring these promising therapeutics into the food allergy clinical landscape, either as stand-alone therapies or for use alongside other therapeutic strategies such as oral immunotherapy.

Understanding the biological mechanisms of allergic disease. Allergic diseases often develop in a step-wise fashion, with the early development of atopic dermatitis and food allergy followed by allergic rhinits, asthma, and eosinophil esophagitis, which is called the atopic march. However, not everyone follows the atopic march, which may be due to differences in immune populations and underlying molecular signaling. We hope that by studying these biological mechanisms, we may be able to better predict who is at risk for developing other allergic diseases.