Interview with Jeffrey Wilson, MD PhD
What is the goal of your research?
Current work focuses on antibody responses to food allergens, with a particular interest in understanding mechanisms and health implications of IgE to alpha-gal. The approach is multi-faceted and includes epidemiological, clinical and mechanistic investigations, the connection between alpha-gal sensitization and tick bites is an area of ongoing interest, as is the "glycolipid hypothesis" as a putative explanation for the unusual delay that occurs between meat ingestion and symptom onset. We are also investigating connections between IgE to alpha-gal and conditions not traditionally associated with allergic disease - namely coronary artery disease and isolated gastrointestinal symptoms that might be labelled as irritable bowel syndrome.
What made you decide to go into medical research?
I got involved in medical research as an undergraduate and have found myself pulled back to it anytime I ventured too far away.
What are your future research and career goals?
Continue to do collaborative research that pushes our field forward and helps our patients.
How has / will the Faculty Development Award helped you in your career?
In the face of the usual setbacks that seem to befall most junior investigators, the award has been a welcome affirmation of my work to date. The award has also provided a funding foundation that makes it easier to focus on today’s research and tomorrow’s NIH grant application.
Who are your mentors?
My chief and chief mentor is Tom Platts-Mills. I am grateful for the opportunities and support I have had since joining the UVA allergy group, initially as a fellow and now as junior faculty. Before finding allergy there were many mentors along the way - my PhD advisor Peter Ernst, my undergraduate mentor Richard Mailman, and many others, including some fantastically smart and creative scientists I worked with during a few years in biotech.