Severe Asthma Research Program    (SARP)
A National Institutes of Health/ National Heart, Lung & Blood Institutes
sponsored network

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University of Pittsburgh                Information for Asthmatics and caregivers

Certain normal cells, called mast cells, appear to be increased in asthma, and particularly in some patients (both adults and children) with severe asthma. There is suggestive evidence that these mast cells contribute to asthma symptoms (wheeze, chest tightness, shortness of breath) and exacerbations across all ages.  At the present time, we can only identify increases in  these mast cells in samples obtained directly from the lung. The studies proposed here will evaluate whether there is any evidence in other body samples, like blood or urine, for these activated mast cells, which would be easier to monitor than lung samples, and clearly easier in children. We will specifically address how and why these mast cells are increased and active in the lungs of some asthmatics. Finally we want to know if asthma patients with these mast cells have a different response to standard asthma medications and whether they predict a certain disease course. 

The University of Pittsburgh site will include a site for adult participants at Montefiore hospital in the  University of Pittsburgh Asthma Institute at UPMC/UPSOM (part of the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine)  and a site for children   in the division of Pulmonary Medicine, Allergy, and Immunology ar Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh (CHP). 

Site Investigators and Locations:


Sally E Wenzel, M.D.; Principal Investigator Steering Committee Chair
Director, Asthma and Allergic Diseases Center
University of PIttsburgh/UPMC
NW 628 Montefiore
3459 Fifth Ave
Pittsburgh, PA
Fax:  412-605-1999
Phone:  412-802-6859

Fernando Holguin MD MPH; Co-Investigator
University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213

Shean Aujla, MD; Co-Investigator
Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC
Pittsburgh, Pennslyvania, 15213

Site Coordinator Contacts:

University of Pittsburgh, Adult


Louise P. Martin, BSN, CCRC
Phone: 412-692-4747
Fax: 412-605-1999    


Jenelle Mock, BSN, CCRC
Phone: 412-864-2219
Fax: 412-605-1999    

Cathy Vitari, RN, BSN, AE-C
Phone: 412-692-4747
Fax: 412-605-1999    


Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, Pediatrics


Paul Rebovich    
Phone: 412-692-5873    


Interested in Participating in SARP?

You will likely qualify for participation in SARP as a severe asthmatic if you:
1.    Have been diagnosed with asthma by a physician
2.    Require high  or continuous doses of asthma medications, such as Advair, Symbicort, prednisone or medrol
3.    Still have asthma symptoms on a regular basis
4.    Have had frequent or severe exacerbations of asthma (requiring prednisone,  ER visits, hospitalizations)
5.    Are not currently smoking and have smoked less than 5-10 years total
6.    Are between the ages of 6 yrs and 75 yrs of age

You may also qualify for participation in SARP as a “comparative” patient with mild asthma.     Similarly, you must be diagnosed with asthma, be between 6 and 75 yrs of age and not be currently smoking or have smoked for more than 5-10 yrs

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