Dr. Wills-Karp is currently the Chair of Environmental Health Sciences, at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She received her Ph.D. from the University of California in Santa Barbara, and post-doctoral training at Yale University. She joined the faculty of Johns Hopkins University in 1990 and rose through the ranks to Associate Professor. In 2000, she was recruited to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital to build a new Division of Immunobiology. She founded the Immunobiology Graduate Program and served as Associate Dean for Research at the University of Cincinnati until 2012 when she was recruited back to JHU as Chair of Environmental Health. Her research interests have been focused on determining the fundamental genetic, and environmental causes of respiratory diseases such as asthma. For the past 20 years her research has been focused on the defining the immunological mechanisms through which environmental agents (allergens, airborne pollutants, microbes) drive respiratory diseases. She and her group were one of the first groups to demonstrate the importance of the CD4+ T cells and the Th2 cytokine, IL-13 in the development of allergic asthma (Science, Nature, Nat. Immunol.). In addition, she has identified several susceptibility genes (complement factors (C3/C5); ATPAF1) for asthma and allergic disorders in both humans and mouse models of respiratory disease (Nat. Immunol., JACI). She has 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). She is currently the Chair of an NIH AITC Review Committee. She serves as the Deputy Editor of Mucosal Immunology and on several advisory boards of professional societies and pharmaceutical companies.
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