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History of Allergy Research at Johns Hopkins

The allergy program at Johns Hopkins was established by Dr. Leslie N. Gay in 1923. Although initially a part-time volunteer effort, the program trained a generation of physicians and research workers, three of whom became president of the American Academy of Allergy. A full-time research program was organized in 1956 by Dr. Philip S. Norman and a decade later, Dr. Lawrence M. Lichtenstein joined the faculty. In 1970, the two formed an independent Clinical Immunology Division based at the Good Samaritan Hospital. During its first 19 years at Good Samaritan, the Division gradually expanded to about 30 faculty and affiliated faculty. From small beginnings, the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Division of Clinical Immunology has become one of the preeminent allergy and clinical immunology research and training groups in the world. Located for the last 33 years in its present home at the Johns Hopkins Asthma & Allergy Center, the Division hosts 15 full-time faculty and 25 part-time and affiliated faculty members, approximately 20 fellows/visiting scientists, and a staff of approximately 40 individuals involved in research, patient care and teaching activities. The faculty is currently engaged in a broad range of research in allergy and clinical immunology, from basic immunology, genetics, biochemistry and molecular biology to clinical research designed to improve the treatment of allergies and asthma.

Training Program

Since the beginnings of a full time faculty in allergy and immunology in 1956, more than 150 physicians have received post-doctoral clinical and research training from the group headed by Drs. Norman Lichtenstein, N. Franklin Adkinson and Bruce S. Bochner. Over 50 holders of the Ph.D. degree have completed a post-doctoral fellowship. Others have earned a Ph.D. degree as a result of work done in the division. Of the trainees from this Division, many are now Professors in their present institutions. Former trainees are now at work not only in the United States but also in Australia, Austria, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, The Netherlands, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, The Philippines, Poland, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan and The United Kingdom.

Program Philosophy

Research in inflammation and its relationship to allergic and immunologic diseases continues to demand physicians and laboratory scientists with a broad understanding of both clinical disease and fundamental science. Physicians must be trained in the skills required for clinical research as well as the research tools currently used in biochemistry, physiology and molecular biology. In addition to further laboratory training in the research skills specific to inflammation and immunology, Ph.D. scientists must possess an understanding of clinical problems and opportunities.

An important feature of the Allergy and Clinical Immunology Training Program has been the promotion of side-by-side efforts by physicians and laboratory scientists. Clinical problems are brought to the attention of investigators in the laboratory, while advances in the laboratory can be rapidly utilized for clinical research. Another important aspect of the Program has been the training of physicians from a wide variety of clinical specialties; pulmonary physicians, dermatologists, otolaryngologists, rheumatologists, gastroenterologists and pediatricians have received training in this program. Physicians and laboratory-trained Ph.Ds from diverse disciplines work with each other daily, attend the same conferences and seminars, and often study the same specific problems.

Over 4000 papers have come from the Division since 1970. Collaborations have been developed with other medical specialties including rheumatology, gastroenterology, dermatology, and otorhinolaryngology. In particular, effective collaborations have been developed with the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine in the study of problems related to asthma.