Katherine N. Cahill, MD
Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Allergy, Pulmonary, and Critical Care Medicine
Medical Director of Clinical Asthma Research
My research utilizes translational approaches to identify how cells and mediators of the innate immune system contribute to novel mechanisms driving subphenotypes of adult asthma. Aspirin-exacerbated respiratory disease (AERD) is a subphenotype of adult asthma with a prominent role for interleukin (IL)-33, mast cells, and platelet-mediated inflammation. I have identified prostaglandin D2 generation during aspirin-induced reactions drives symptom severity and the role of TSLP and mast cells in this process, determined the effects of high-dose aspirin therapy in AERD on mast cells, and identified a subset which responds to inhibition of platelets with prasugrel. Additional work using imatinib, a tyrosine kinase inhibitor of KIT and thereby mast cells, in a randomized-controlled trial in a cohort of steroid-refractory severe asthmatics identified a role for KIT inhibition in improving methacholine airway hyperresponsiveness. I have successfully recruited more than 150 asthmatics into high-risk translational, stage II, and stage III investigator-initiated clinical trials involving airway provocation testing and developed the infrastructure for an asthma patient registry of over 1000 subjects. My clinical expertise in the diagnosis and management of adult asthma compliments my experience executing mechanistic studies involving assessments of respiratory and systemic inflammation and mediator production. Since my transition to Vanderbilt University in August 2018, my work has focused on translating preclinical data supporting Glucagon-Like Peptide (GLP)-1 receptor agonists are effective in animal models of obese asthma. Through collaborations with experts in obesity and metabolism, animal models of airway inflammation, and platelet biology at Vanderbilt, my goal is to define the mechanisms by which the GLP-1 receptor pathway attenuates inflammation in the obese and AERD phenotypes of adult asthma.