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Marsha Wills-Karp, PhD

  • Chair, Department of Environmental Health and Engineering
  • Anna M. Baetjer Professorship in Environmental Health
  • Professor

Departmental Affiliations

Center & Institute Affiliations

Contact Information

615 N. Wolfe Street
Room E7527
Baltimore, Maryland 21205

410 955-0617

Dr. Wills-Karp PubMed Publications

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PhD, University of California, Santa Barbara, 1986
MS, Southwest Texas State University, 1982


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.

Honors and Awards

Chair, NIAID ZRG1 IMM-S (90)S Study Section, 2016

Chair, NIH AITRC Study Section, 2011-2015

Chair, Special Emphasis Review NIAID Panel, 2015

Kleinerman Distinguished Lecture in Pulmonary Pathobiology, 2015

Intramural NHLBI Review Committee, 2014

Delta Omega Honor Society for Public Health, 2014

Scientific Board, Trudeau Institute, 2012-2016

Deputy Editor, Mucosal Immunology, 2012-2017

Associate Editor, JCI, 2017-present

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, 2012

Member of Clinical Immunology Committee of AAI, 2011-2014

Elected Member American Society of Pediatrics, 2010-present

Keystone Advisory Council Member, 2010

Permanent Member NIH AITRC Study Section, 2009-2011

Executive Leadership for Academic Medicine (ELAM) Fellow, 2007-2008

FDA, Allergenic Products Advisory Committee, 2005-2016

Distinguished Immunology Professor Award, NIAID, 2005

Distinguished Lectureship, Japan, 2005

Member of Finance Committee, American Association of Immunology, 2004-2006

Permanent Member, NIH LCMI Study Section, 2000-2004

Distinguished Alumni Award, Southwest Texas State University, 2002

John Salvaggio Memorial Lectureship, 2001

Faculty of 1000, 2000-2005

Faculty Development Award, Johns Hopkins University, 1994

Wellcome Trust Review Committee, 1998-2000, 2005, 2007

NIH Post-doctoral Training Grant, 1987-1989

First Award, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, 1989

Achievement and Leadership Award, Southwest Texas State University, 1981, 1982

Academic Excellence, 1980, 1981, 1982

Beta Beta Beta Biological Honor Society, 1979-1982


Apellis (2015-present)

Janssen Pharmaceuticals (2013-2015)

Isis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (2011-2012)

F. Hoffman-La Roche Ltd (2011-2012)

Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical R&D (2011-2012)

Genentech (2010-2012)

Omeros Corporation (2010-2011)

Merck (2007-2012)

Abbott (2006-2007)

Amgen (2005-2008)

Centocor (2003-2006)

Abgenix, Inc. (2003-2006)

Merck Frosst (2002-2004)

Dynavax Pharmaceuticals (1999-2004)

Genetics Institute (1998-2000)

Millennium (1997)

Department of Energy, Beryllium Lung Disease (1998)

Roche Bioscience (1997-1998)


1987-1988 Post-doctoral Fellowship, Yale University

1988-1989 Post-doctoral Fellowship, Johns Hopkins University

1989-1990 Research Associate, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland

1990-1996 Assistant Professor, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland

1996-2000 Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland

2000-2012 Tenured Professor of Pediatrics, Director, Division of Immunobiology, Children’s Hospital Medical Center, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio

2003-2010 Founder and Director, Immunobiology Graduate Program, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, Ohio

2007-2012 Director of Center for Immunological Research, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio

2008-2011 Associate Dean for Basic Sciences, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, Ohio

2010-2012 Rieveschl Professor of Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio

2012-2016 Chair, Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland

2016-present Chair, Department of Environmental Health and Engineering, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Whiting School of Engineering, Baltimore, Maryland

  • Asthma
  • Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Pulmonary Disease
  • Environmental Health
  • Air Pollution
  • Early life determinants of immune disease

Listed are 5 out of 164 publications

  • Ursula Smole, Naina Gour, Jordan Phelan, Gerhard Hofer, Cordula Köhler, Bernhard Kratzer, Peter A Tauber, Xiao Xiao, Nu Yao, Jan Dvorak, Luis Caraballo, Leonardo Puerta, Sandra Rosskopf, Jamila Chakir, Ernst Malle, Andrew P Lane, Winfried F Pickl, Stephane Lajoie, Marsha Wills-Karp. Serum amyloid A is a soluble pattern recognition receptor that drives type 2 immunity. Nat. Immunol. 21:756-765, 2020.
  • Gour N, Lajoie S, Smole U, White M, Hu D, Goddard P, Huntsman S, Eng C, Man A, Oh S, Kim JH, Sharma A, Plante S, Salem IH, Resch Y, Xiao X, Yao N, Singh A, Vrtala S, Chakir J, Burchard EG, Lane AP, Wills-Karp M. Dysregulated invertebrate tropomyosin-dectin-1 interaction confers susceptibility to allergic diseases. Sci Immunol. 3:20. doi: 10.1126/sciimmunol.aam9841, 2018.
  • Lajoie S, Lewkowich IP, Suzuki Y, Clark JR, Sproles AA, Dienger K, Budelsky A, Wills-Karp, M. Complement-mediated regulation of the IL-17A axis is a central genetic determinant of the severity of experimental allergic asthma. Nat. Immunol. 11(10):928-35, 2010. PMID: 20802484
  • Karp, C. L., A. Grupe, E. Schadt, S. L. Ewart, M. Keane-Moore, P. J. Cuomo, J. Kohl, L. Wahl, D. Kuperman, S. Germer, D. Aud, G. Peltz, and M. Wills-Karp.  Identification of complement factor 5 as a susceptibility locus for experimental allergic asthma.  Nat. Immunol. 1:221-226, 2000.
  • Wills-Karp, M., J. Luyimbazi, X. Xu, B. Schofield, T. Y. Neben, C. L. Karp, and D. D. Donaldson.  Interleukin-13: central mediator of allergic asthma.  Science. 282:2258-2261, 1998