Childhood Origins of Asthma

For March 13, 2019   
Hi WN@TL Fans,
“I can’t breathe” are three and half of the scariest words a parent can hear their child speak.   Luckily, I have never heard them spoken by my kids.  But I think I can imagine the fear and the fright as someone you love fights for their life to get a breath of air.
“I can’t catch my breath” isn’t quite as a clarion call for help, but a sneaky wheeze or a recurrent cough in your kid can raise your parental hackles. Asthma is mostly a chronic condition (although it can become critical) as one’s lungs slide over time into a state of inflamed and constricted airways. 
According to the NIH, asthma affects 25 million Americans, of whom 7 million are children.  Figuring out what factors may trigger the immune system to inflame the lungs might offer insights to manage or avoid the strictures of asthma and make it possible for all of us to breathe a little easier. 
This week (March 13) Robert Lemanske of Pediatric Allergy speaks on the origins and possible cures of childhood asthma.  His talk was originally scheduled for January 30, but was postponed due to the projected -30F temperatures and breath-taking  -60F windchills.  Plus, the university shut down.
His talk is entitled “When the Sneeze Becomes a Wheeze: Discovering the Origins of Childhood Asthma and How This Will Lead to a Cure.” 
Here’s some background on Professor Lemanske’s research:
Overall research interests have focused primarily on the pathophysiology and treatment of asthma including mechanisms underlying pulmonary late phase reactions, virus-induced airway dysfunction, and asthma inception in infants and young children. He is currently one of the principal investigators of AsthmaNet, an asthma consortium designed to evaluate new and existing therapies for asthma in children and adults funded by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI). In addition, he is currently the principal investigator of a Program Project Grant from the NHLBI that is studying the contributions of both genetic (atopy) and environmental (viral infections) factors on the origins of asthma and allergic disease in a birth cohort termed COAST (Childhood Origins of ASThma). 
Background on the COAST study:  Although asthma is likely to be a heterogeneous disease or syndrome, three factors and/or events repetitively emerge for their ability to significantly influence asthma inception in the first decade of life: immune response aberrations, which appear to be defined best by the concept of cytokine dysregulation; lower respiratory tract infections (in particular RSV); and some form of gene by environment interaction that needs to occur at a critical time period in the development of the immune system or the lung. 
It remains to be firmly established, however, how any one or all of these factors, either independently or interactively, influence the development of childhood asthma. Thus, our efforts to determine and define the importance of these three factors to asthma pathogenesis are the focus and goal of this work.
About the Speaker:
Robert F. Lemanske, Jr., M.D., is Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine in the Division of Pediatric Allergy, Immunology and Rheumatology. He is the Associate Dean for Clinical and Translational Research and the Deputy Executive Director of the Institute for Clinical and Translational Research at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, Wisconsin. 
He received his degree in medicine from the University of Wisconsin Medical School (1975) and his pediatric residency training at the University of Wisconsin Hospitals (1975-78). His allergy and immunology training was performed both at the University of Wisconsin (1978-80) and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda, Maryland (1980-83). He is Board certified in both Pediatrics and Allergy and Immunology. 
He was the 2015-16 President of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI). His basic and clinical research has focused on the pathophysiology and treatment of asthma, particularly during early childhood.
Next week (March 20)  a new view of one of the oldest legends at the University of Wisconsin-Madison:  historian Kevin Walters digs deep into the professional life and times of Harry Steenbock, a pivotal personality in the arc of intellectual property, licensing & royalties for inventions created at a US university.  
It’s a story that’ll knock your sox off, so wear two pair.
I hope to see you soon at Wednesday Nite @ The Lab.
Tom Zinnen
Biotechnology Center & Extension Division