Dr. Merritt Fajt’s Research
Dr. Fajt’s research over the last several years has focused on the pathobiologic mechanisms of severe asthma and the role of mast cells. While mast cells have been reported in the epithelium, both in the GI tract and in the airway, very little is known regarding the epithelial (and even luminal) mast cells, their phenotype and function in asthma and severe asthma. Dr. Fajt’s research interest involves determining the location, phenotype and function of airway mast cells in severe asthma, as compared to milder asthma and normal control subjects. She conducts studies from a range of sources including endobronchial biopsy, epithelial cells, bronchoalveolar lavage fluid, sputum, and blood samples. Preliminary data strongly suggest that mast cells in severe asthma, rather than being absent, are actually of an altered functional phenotype and directed towards a luminal location. Her studies will continue to focus on the differences in mast cell phenotypes and their modification by epithelial or luminal factors as it relates to the inflammatory and repair processes of asthma. An understanding of the pathobiology of mast cells in severe asthma could lead to new clinical biomarkers and therapeutic targets. Dr. Fajt has presented her data at several national conferences. She was a second author on a paper recently accepted to the American Journal of Critical Care Medicine regarding the role of mast cells in severe asthma.
Dr. Fajt also participates in medical education. She actively participates in journal club and case conferences with the allergy-immunology fellows and gives monthly lectures to the residents in the medical intensive care unit. She has also served as a small group facilitator for medical students. Through her work in the Asthma Institute, she enjoys participating in various community outreach programs.