Testuo Shoda has wanted to better understand allergic diseases for years. Growing up in the town of Fukaya, Japan, Shoda saw firsthand how his younger brother suffered from severe asthma.
“At that time, there wasn’t a medicine for asthma, he [constantly] needed to be hospitalized. And I wanted to become a doctor to cure my brother,” Shoda said.
“When I find something new, I am very excited. My curiosity never ends,” Shoda said.
Now, as a research associate in the divisions of allergy and immunology at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Shoda focuses on eosinophilic gastrointestinal disorder. Patients with this condition have excessive eosinophilia in segments of the gastrointestinal tract that can cause chronic inflammation and, ultimately, tissue damage. The most common form is eosinophilic esophagitis, or EoE.
It’s an area he wasn’t able to dig into as much as a researcher in Japan. “[This field is studied] more in the U.S. and I wanted to see from the top of the world, which is why I came here,” Shoda laughed.
EoE is more prevalent in men with European ancestry, highlighting a genetic etiology of the disease. “Studying EoE is not just an academic pursuit due to its clinical burden. EoE is a persistent disease from childhood to adulthood, and is associated with the lowest quality of life compared with a series of other chronic pediatric diseases,” Shoda said.
Unlike other allergic diseases, there are currently no drugs approved by the FDA for the treatment of EoE. Shoda received grants from NIH to study the genetics of EoE with the hope that his research can potentially provide new insights into what drives disease.
Outside the lab, Shoda plays soccer with his friends and enjoys his wife’s home-cooked meals, plus reads Japanese manga and watches Japanese anime.
— Maaisha Osman