Since her September 2008 arrival at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center and The University of Texas Medical School at Houston, Amber Luong, M.D., Ph.D., has focused her attention on building a translational otorhinolaryngology research program from the ground up.

Her primary interest centers on understanding the pathophysiology of allergic fungal rhinosinusitis (AFRS) as a model for studying immune dysregulation of the paranasal sinuses. “Our research goal is the development of more directed clinical treatment options for AFRS and other conditions that are difficult to manage medically and surgically,” says Dr. Luong, who is an assistant professor in the Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at the UT Medical School. “Learning more about AFRS will give us a better idea of how to design treatments for the cause of the disorder rather than the symptoms, which is the focus of current treatment. Toward that goal, we’re collaborating with a lab that has identified a molecule called thymic stromal lymphopoeitin (TSLP), which, along with Interleukin 25, is known to trigger the Th2 response linked to allergic inflammation.”

The search for an effective treatment for AFRS is just one component of current research taking place under Dr. Luong’s direction. Other projects include the investigation of treatment options for chronic rhinosinusitis, including a topical steroid, and the use of optical rhinometry to better define nasal physiology and assess nasal patency. Optical rhinometry detects changes in nasal congestion by tracking changes in light transmitted from an emitter and a detector placed across the nasal bridge.

In addition to leading the basic science research program for the Texas Sinus Institute, Dr. Luong has launched a nasal physiology laboratory, a new clinical service for patients with persistent symptoms of nasal congestion and obstruction.

“We’re using the new technology in the lab to better assess our patients, which will ultimately lead to the establishment of new treatment standards,” she says. “Our entire research program is a grand project — we’re looking for a cure for chronic sinus disease. Our long-term goal is to put ourselves out of business.”

For more information about research efforts or Dr. Luong, call 713.486.5000 or visit www.ut-ent.org.