AAAAI Foundation
Funding research that leads to the prevention and cure of asthma and allergic and immunologic disease

Interview with Adora A. Lin, MD, PhD


Adora A. Lin, MD, PhD
Children’s National Medical Center
Project: “Elucidation of the Role of B Cells in Food Allergy, Sensitization, and Tolerance”
$240,000 paid over 3 years
Award Term: July 2018-June 2021

How much is known about B cells and their role in food allergy?

Not much. Most research surrounding B cells and food allergy has been related to food-specific immunoglobulin (Ig) levels. There’s research out there indicating what different food-specific IgE or IgG4 levels might mean with regards to tolerance or clinical reactivity to a particular food, but not many researchers are really paying attention to the biology of the cells that make these antibodies. There’s a lot of potential in this research. There’s so much that we don’t actually know about these cells and their role in food allergy, or allergy in general.

Future implications are whether or not B cells or regulatory B cells could serve as a biomarker for clinical reactivity, tolerance, as a response to therapy or whether they are a potential therapeutic target.

Did you always want to go into medical research?

I went into college knowing that I wanted to do research; the medicine part came later. I was in a meeting with a professor talking about my term paper and she asked me what I wanted to do. I told her that I wanted to go into research and she said, “That’s a shame, you seem like a real people person. It’s too bad that you’re not going into medicine.” I told this to my pre-med friends and they said that they all thought the same thing, so it was something that I started to consider.

Is it difficult to get funding?

In order to get grant money, you have to have preliminary data. But you often can’t make preliminary data until you have money. It’s a strange cycle.

Many young faculty rely on trying to write grant proposals from our fellowship research or on getting good startup packages from the institution hiring them. I was fortunate that I was able to take my fellowship research and use a lot of that as preliminary data for the institutional K12 award that I have, as well as for the Faculty Development Award.

How has the Faculty Development Award helped you?

The K12 covers my salary and some of my supplies. The biggest thing that the Faculty Development Award is going to help me do is hire a technician.

It’s a huge honor to get this award from the Foundation. I remember going to my first Foundation Benefit when I was a fellow. And I thought, “Wow. I wonder what it would be like to get one of those awards.” And here I am. It’s a big deal in science to do research on what you want to do. I’m just very grateful for this opportunity.

Who are your mentors?

David A. Hildeman, PhD; Thomas B. Nutman, MD; Pamela A. Guerrerio, MD, PhD; Catherine Bollard, MD, MBChB; and Hemant P. Sharma, MD, MHS, FAAAAI.

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