Michael E. Wechsler, MD, MMSc
Photo: Michael E. Wechsler
Elected 2012
My research focuses on clinical and translational asthma research, with three main foci of investigation: (i) asthma genetics and personalized medicine; (ii) clinical trials in asthma; and (iii) Churg-Strauss Syndrome. Regarding the genetics of asthma, I have investigated the role of numerous candidate genetic polymorphisms in the pathogenesis and management of asthma. I was the Principal Investigator of the Lancet-published LARGE trial, which prospectively investigated the effect of beta-adrenergic receptor polymorphisms on the asthmatic response to salmeterol. I also led a trial examining genotype-stratified treatment with anticholinergics vs. long acting beta-agonists and exacerbations in asthma. As Director of Asthma at Natinal Jewish Health, and previously as Associate Director of the BWH Asthma Research Center, I have conducted more than 30 clinical asthma research trials. I am one of the Investigators examining the effects of a novel therapy for asthma (bronchial thermoplasty) that utilizes thermal energy to disrupt airway smooth muscle. I have examined the effects of placebo on lung function in asthma, completing this clinical trial work in over 40 subjects. Having reported on the importance of using placebos in clinical trials and on the relevance of patient reported outcomes in clinical trials, my NEJM manuscript has reset the standard for clinical trial design in this condition. As a member of the Steering Committee of the NIH-sponsored Asthma Clinical Research Network (ACRN, aka Asthmanet), a multi-center asthma clinical trials consortium that conducts trials to clarify our understanding of asthma, I was the lead investigator who described an association between asthma treatment failures and beta agonist use in African Americans and am a PI for a large 1500 patient study of asthma therapies in African Americans. A major focus of my research efforts is elucidating the pathophysiology of the Churg-Strauss syndrome, an eosinophilic vasculitis. The first to describe the relationship between CSS and leukotriene modifiers and anti-IgE, I clinically follow one of the largest cohorts of CSS patients in the country; they are serving as the primary test population in a genome-wide association study of CSS. I have examined the role of anti-IL5 in the treatment of CSS patients and have received NIAID R34 funding to plan a double blind placebo controlled trial in this patient population.