Dr. Amber Luong Delivers the 40th Annual Ogura Lectureship

June 12, 2023

Amber Luong, MD, PhDAmber Luong, MD, PhD, professor and vice chair for academic affairs in the Department of Otorhinolaryngology at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston, was the invited guest speaker at the 40th Annual Ogura Lectureship and Resident Research Day held in June 2022 at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Dr. Luong delivered two addresses: “Revisiting the Role of Fungi in CRS: Lessons Learned from Allergic Fungal Rhinosinusitis” and “An Immigrant’s Story on Forging a Rewarding Career.”

A physician-scientist, Dr. Luong has a strong interest in the pathophysiology of chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) as a model for studying immune dysregulation of the paranasal sinuses. She has zeroed in on allergic fungal rhinosinusitis (AFRS), which accounts for about 7 to 12% of all surgical rhinosinusitis cases, to identify unique features triggered by fungi that can be extrapolated to other CRS patients. Current AFRS management primarily consists of endoscopic sinus surgery and medical therapy with perioperative systemic corticosteroids and long-term intranasal steroid use directed at suppressing intranasal inflammation.

“There appears to be a deficiency in antifungal activity in patients with AFRS, leading to an accumulation of fungus in the sinus cavity,” she says. “We suspect that some regulatory pathways, specifically the IL-17-positive and IL-22-positive T cells, may not differentiate properly in patients with AFRS. These cells help stimulate the production of antimicrobial peptides. Our lab is starting to hone in on these precise pathways, which we hope will help us identify novel treatment options.”

Born in Vietnam, Dr. Luong was three in April 1975 when her family left the country the day before the fall of Saigon. She went on to receive her MD/PhD through the National Institutes of Health-funded Medical Scientist Training Program and has received multiple grants from the NIH, The Triological Society, the American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy, and the American Rhinologic Society. She has published more than 120 peer-reviewed articles in various journals including the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Science, and the International Forum of Allergy and Rhinology. In addition to her basic science research, she is actively engaged in a number of international industry-funded clinical trials that directly stem from her interest in the relationship of chronic inflammation between the sinuses and lungs and innovative management of chronic sinus disease. Both her basic science and translational research complement her clinical interest in the medical and surgical management of chronic sinus disease.

“Growing up, our parents reminded my brother and me that we had been given a second chance after escaping the war,” she says. “In Vietnam the future looked bleak. As a young couple fortunate enough to leave with their children, my parents emphasized education and making contributions to society.”

The Ogura Lectureship is held annually in honor of Joseph H. Ogura, MD, a member of the Washington University School of Medicine faculty from 1948 to 1982, where he served as Lindburg Professor and head of the Department of Otolaryngology and otolaryngologist-in-chief at the medical school. He was a member of 30 professional societies and held presidencies in the American Society of Head & Neck Surgery, the American Laryngeal Society, and The Triological Society. The endowment for the Ogura Lectureship was established in 1982 in his honor. The Resident Research Day was added to the program in 1986 in appreciation of the research accomplishments of these outstanding women and men.

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