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Basic Science

The mission of the Rhinology & Airway Immunology lab is to dissect the mechanisms that initiate and exacerbate inflammatory diseases of the upper and lower airways with a significant emphasis on chronic rhinosinusitis. The lab focuses primarily on three main research areas:

  • To understand the role of stromal cells (epithelial cells, fibroblasts, etc.) in driving sinonasal inflammation associated with adult and pediatric chronic rhinosinusitis.
  • To explore the mechanisms by which cigarette smoke exacerbates sinonasal inflammation in adult and pediatric chronic rhinosinusitis.
  • To determine the roles of vitamin D3 in the development, exacerbation and treatment of upper and lower respiratory tract diseases such as asthma, chronic sinusitis, and rhinitis.

The laboratory works closely with clinicians spanning multiple disciplines allowing us to conduct cutting edge translation research. A significant portion of work is conducted through collaborations with Rodney Schlosser MD and Zach Soler MD. Through these collaborations the basic science team is actively involved in studies investigating the role of cytokines in the impairment of olfaction in patients with sinusitis and use of nasal mucus biomarkers to predict asthma severity and outcomes. The lab is also involved in collaborative studies with investigators in the Department of Pediatrics examining the impact of maternal vitamin D3 supplementation immune-mediated disorders associated with pregnancy and newborn immune responses to common inhaled allergens.


Education imagePre- and postdoctoral trainees in the are exposed to a broad range of immunology methodologies as well as receive training in the principles of immunology, grant and manuscript writing, data presentation and experimental design. To date, over 20 medical students, residents, fellows and graduate students have trained in the laboratory. A total of five PGY3 residents conducting their research blocks in the Rhinology lab have received grants from the Centralized Otolaryngology Research Efforts (CORE) resident grant program and/or American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy.  


Flight Attendants Medical Research Institute
Department of Veterans Affairs
Kellogg Foundation
American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy 
American Society of Pediatric Allergy
American Rhinologic Society
South Carolina Clinical & Translation Research Institute
American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery


News & Noteworthy

Research highlight on the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology’s website:


Lab Team

Jennifer K. Mulligan, PhD
Assistant Professor
Jennifer K. Mulligan, PhD

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