Marsha Wills-Karp

Department Chair

Research Interests

Allergy, Asthma, Immunology, Pulmonary Biology, Environmental Health, Air Pollution, Microbiome, Early life determinants of immune disease    


Ph.D, University of California, Santa Barbara, 1986
MS, Southwest Texas State University, 1982


Professional Experience
Post-doctoral Fellowship, Yale University
Post-doctoral Fellowship, Johns Hopkins University
Research Associate, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland
Assistant Professor, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland
Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland
Tenured Professor of Pediatrics, Director, Division of Immunobiology, Children’s Hospital Medical Center, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio
Founder and Director, Immunobiology Graduate Program, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, Ohio
Director of Center for Immunological Research, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio
Associate Dean for Basic Sciences, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, Ohio
Rieveschl Professor of Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio
Chair, Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland


Research Summary

My research activities focus on defining the environmental and genetic determinants of allergic airway diseases such as asthma. My lab members and I have specifically explored the role of CD4+ Th2 cells and cytokines (IL-13), and innate immune pathways (complement activation pathways, TLRs, CLRs), in the pathogenesis of asthma. I have made substantial contributions to our understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying allergenicity of common allergens-specifically how allergens and airborne pollutants activate innate immune pathways through molecular mimicry (Nature). More recently, I have turned my attention to how the gut microbiome alters susceptibility to allergen and PM-induced asthma.


Research Areas




Pulmonary disease

Environmental health

Air pollution


Early life determinants of immune disease


Honors and Awards

2016:  Chair, NIAID ZRG1 IMM-S (90)S Study Section
2011 – 2015:  Chair, NIH AITRC Study Section
2015:  Chair, Special Emphasis Review NIAID Panel
2015:  Kleinerman Distinguished Lecture in Pulmonary Pathobiology
2014:  Intramural NHLBI Review Committee
2014:  Delta Omega Honor Society for Public Health
2012 – 2016:  Scientific Board, Trudeau Institute
2012 – present:  Deputy Editor, Mucosal Immunology
2012:  Distinguished Lectureship, Center for Immunology & Microbial Defense Disease, Albany Medical College
2012:  Rebecca Buckely Lectureship, American Academy of Allergy and Immunology
2012:  Marsha Wills-Karp Immunobiology Student Award established at CCHMC
2011 – 2012:  Member of Clinical Immunology Committee of AAI
2010 – present:  Elected Member American Society of Pediatrics
2010:  Keystone Advisory Council Member
2009 – 2011:  Permanent Member NIH AITRC Study Section
2007 – 2008:  Executive Leadership for Academic Medicine (ELAM) Fellow
2005 – 2016:  FDA, Allergenic Products Advisory Committee
2005:  Distinguished Immunology Professor Award, NIAID
2005:  Distinguished Lectureship, Japan
2004 – 2006:  Member of Finance Committee, American Association of Immunology
2000 – 2004:  Permanent Member, NIH LCMI Study Section
2002:  Distinguished Alumni Award, Southwest Texas State University
2001:  John Salvaggio Memorial Lectureship
2000 – 2005:  Faculty of 1000
1994:  Faculty Development Award, Johns Hopkins University
1998 – 2000, 2005, 2007:  Wellcome Trust Review Committee
1987 – 1989:  NIH Post-doctoral Training Grant
1989:  First Award, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
1981, 1982:  Achievement and Leadership Award, Southwest Texas State University
1980, 1981, 1982:  Academic Excellence
1979 – 1982:  Beta Beta Beta Biological Honor Society



Roche Bioscience (1997-1998)
Department of Energy, Beryllium Lung Disease (1998)
Millennium (1997)
Genetics Institute (1998-2000)
Dynavax Pharmaceuticals (1999-2004)
Merck Frosst (2002-2004)
Abgenix, Inc. (2003-2006)
Centocor (2003-2006)
Amgen (2005-2008)
Abbott (2006-2007)
Merck (2007-2012)
Omeros Corporation (2010-2011)
Genentech (2010-2012)
Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical R&D (2011-2012)
F. Hoffman-La Roche Ltd (2011-2012)
Isis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (2011-present)
Janssen Pharmaceuticals (2013-2015)
Apellis (2015-present)


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