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Environmental Factor, September 2012

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Grantee honored for research on allergic asthma

By Eddy Ball

NIEHS grantee Elizabeth Matsui, M.D.

PhARF Award winner Elizabeth Matsui (Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Matsui)

NIEHS grantee Elizabeth Matsui, M.D., has been named this year’s top young investigator in the field of allergy and immunology. Matsui is an associate professor of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center (JHCC), specializing in allergy and immunology, and holds a joint appointment in the department of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Chosen by an international body of scientists on behalf of the Phadia Allergy Research Forum (PhARF), Matsui also received a $50,000 cash award, sponsored by blood test manufacturer Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., during the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology Congress 2012 held in Geneva.

Exceptional contributions to advancing the field of allergy

The award recognizes exceptional young scientists who have advanced the field of allergy through creative and independent research. Matsui was specifically honored for her work on pediatric asthma and her research on the role of mouse allergens as an important driver of asthma flare-ups, particularly among urban patients.

In bestowing the award, committee members commended Matsui’s combined expertise in epidemiology and clinical and basic science, which has led to novel insights into the mechanisms of inflammatory airway disease, and helped allergists better evaluate and manage urban patients with asthma.

“This award couldn’t have gone to a more deserving investigator,” said Robert Wood, M.D., in a JHCC press release. Wood is the director of allergy and immunology at JHCC, as well as a mentor and collaborator of Matsui’s. “Dr. Matsui’s investigative curiosity and her clinical acumen, combined with her epidemiologic and scientific expertise, have greatly influenced the field of pediatric allergy and fueled a new understanding of modifiable risk factors for allergic asthma.”

Matsui received her undergraduate and medical degrees from Vanderbilt University and went on to complete her pediatric residency at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). After her residency, Matsui spent several years practicing general pediatrics in Seattle and Baltimore.

During this time, she developed an interest in asthma and allergies, and subsequently began subspecialty training in pediatric allergy and immunology at Johns Hopkins. After completing her fellowship there, Matsui joined the faculty in the Division of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology and has built a research program focused on the impact of allergen exposure on allergic disease.

Matsui is part of the research team at the NIEHS-funded Exposure Analysis Resources Center program and was also involved in the Disease Investigation Through Specialized Clinically Oriented Ventures In Environmental Research (DISCOVER) program there from 2006 to 2011. She is currently the lead researcher on two NIEHS grants, Oxidative Stress and Inflammation in a Human PM [Particulate Matter] Nasal Challenge and Core-Data Management, which funds the Data Management and Analysis Core for the Johns Hopkins Center for Childhood Asthma in the Urban Environment.

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