Research in the Zimmermann lab has three main areas:
- Eosinophilic diseases, which include allergic diseases such as asthma, as well as parasitic infestation, eosinophilic gastrointestinal diseases and rare eosinophilic leukemias. Eosinophils can be present in some tissues with no ill effects, while at other times or in other tissues they cause serious damage. The lab's goal is to learn the mechanisms that cause this damage. Currently, we are focused on understanding the molecular mechanism of eosinophil survival and death that lead to this damage. One thing in common of all situations with hypereosinophilia is that they cause heart damage, which tends to be the main cause of morbidity and mortality in patients. Thus, we have a model of eosinophilic heart disease in which we are studying the mechanisms of eosinophil-induced damage. We use a spectrum of approaches, from in vitro cell biology and immunology, mouse modeling to patient-centered studies. These studies are performed in collaboration with Drs. Dan Prows (CCHMC) and Onur Kanisicak.
- Mast cell mediated disease. These studies are translational and focus on analyzing pathology samples from patients with unexplained gastrointestinal symptoms and/or dysautonomia (including fainting, headaches, “brain fog” etc). Our hypothesis is that there is a subset of patients who have increased levels and/or activation of mast cells in the gastrointestinal tract, and that these mast cells, through interaction with nerves, cause these non-specific symptoms. We also hypothesize that this subset of patients would benefit from mast cell-targeted therapies. These studies are performed in collaboration with Dr. Jonathan Bernstein.
- Cancer immunology. These studies are clinical and involve a large team of investigators including basic scientists (Drs. Laura Conforti and Susa Wells), medical oncologists (Dr. Trisha Wise-Draper), and radiation oncologists. Our team is studying the effect of proton irradiation on head and neck cancer and its interplay with immunotherapy (checkpoint inhibitors).