Food Allergy: There has been a dramatic increase in allergic diseases over the past 50 years. Considering food allergy in particular, this increase in prevalence has translated into a recent estimate of at least 15 million Americans with food allergy. Unfortunately, despite this staggering number, no active treatments are available for food allergy and the standard of care remains strict avoidance of the food allergen. There has been a significant amount of research into food allergy and in particular looking for potential treatments. Dr. Kim is specifically interested in the use of immunotherapy in the treatment of food allergy. Multiple studies have demonstrated successful desensitization using oral immunotherapy (OIT) and my research on sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) for peanut allergy has demonstrated potential for this modality as well. Most recently, epicutaneous immunotherapy (EPIT) has emerged as a viable modality as well. As part of the UNC Food Allergy initiative, our research group is focused on multiple aspects of food immunotherapy including the safety and tolerability of immunotherapy, varying levels of clinical desensitization, lasting benefits of treatment termed sustained unresponsiveness, and importantly the immune mechanisms involved in successful treatment. Through our work here at UNC as well as through collaborations with the Consortium of Food Allergy Research (CoFAR), the Immune Tolerance Network (ITN), and Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE), we hope that an effective treatment can be found soon.
Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria (CIU) and Angioedema: About 25% of people will have urticaria (hives) at some point in their lives, and up to 3% of these people will go on to develop CIU which are hives that go on for more than 6 weeks with no identifiable cause. It is thought that immune dysregulation and possibly autoimmunity is at the heart of the problem for many of these people. Although antihistamines are the mainstay of treatment for CIU, many patients fail this therapy. Dr. Kim is particularly interested in the use of different immune modulatory drugs for the treatment of refractory CIU including omalizumab, cyclosporine, dapsone, sulfasalazine, and hydroychloroquine.
Medical Education: Dr. Kim has a particular interest in the medical education of all levels of learners. His primary educational focus is on the UNC Allergy and Immunology Fellowship Training Program. As director, his goal is to recruit and train the next generation of leaders in the field of allergy and immunology through not only strong clinical training but also productive research opportunities. At the resident level, he acts as the director of the allergy and immunology electives of the UNC Internal Medicine, and UNC Pediatric residency programs, respectively. At the medical school level, he is the course director for the MS4 allergy and immunology elective and coordinator for the allergy and immunology component of the MS3 ambulatory medicine rotation. He has also participated as a tutor in the MS1/MS2 Patient Centered Care (PCC) course and in the Transition Course for rising MS3 students. Lastly, he has been the division liason for the UNC AED premedical society shadowing program. Having all these opportunities to interact with learners and to shape their medical careers has been extremely rewarding for Dr. Kim, and to be able to introduce them to the field of allergy and immunology is a wonderful bonus.