Update from the Division of Immunology

The following is a guest post from Scott Vogelgesang, MD, Director of the Division of Immunology. It is part of an ongoing 2019 series of division updates.

In the Division of Immunology, which includes Rheumatology and Allergy, our vision is to be Leaders in Immunology through:        

New Knowledge

  • Robust basic immunobiology program
  • Vigorous data mining from University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics, VA Health Care System, and other large databases
  • Translational links to basic research programs

Patient Care

  • Destination for complex cases
  • Literature-based assessment and recommendations
  • Clinical trials for new therapies


  • Teachers of Immunology for all levels of learners
  • Dissemination of new knowledge
  • Pioneering curriculum models

More specifically, the Division of Immunology is meeting the goals of the tripartite mission in the following ways.

The division provides medical education for all levels of learners including medical students, residents, fellows, graduate students (Immunology Graduate Program) and colleagues (continuing medical education in both Rheumatology and Allergy-Immunology). Three division members lead major educational offerings within the Carver College of Medicine:

Dowden~Amy Yoder
Amy Dowden, MD:  Strand Director for MAS (Medicine and Society)
Stafford~Dee Dee
Dee Dee Stafford, MD, PhD: Course Director for MOHD (Mechanisms of Human Disease) IV
Brittany Bettendorf, MD: Course Director for MAS (Medicine and Society) I

In addition, Bharat Kumar, MD, MME, was nominated for the Carver College of Medicine’s 2019 M3 Faculty of the Year Award.

Bharat Kumar, MD, MME

Our division also offers one of only two dual-training programs in the country that combines fellowship education in both Allergy-Immunology and Rheumatology.  Two recent graduates of this dual-track program joined our faculty and authored a paper describing the program.

The division enjoys a strong relationship with the Center for Immunology and Immune Based Diseases and the Immunology Graduate Program. Members include Craig Morita, MD, PhD, working on γδT lymphocytes and their role in infection immunity and cancer immunotherapy and John Colgan, PhD, focusing on the role of GON4L, a gene important in B lymphocyte development and T lymphocyte signaling through Tim-3.

170101 morita
Craig Morita, MD, PhD
John Colgan, PhD

Bridging the areas of high-quality patient care, postgraduate education, and immune-based research Elizabeth Field, MD, leads the Iowa Regional Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics Laboratory at the Iowa City VA Medical Center. Gloria Lee, PhD, another division member, recently successfully mentored Max Liu through the successful completion of his PhD while in the CCOM MSTP program.

Elizabeth Field, MDM
Gloria Lee, PhD

The division is also actively involved in clinical research with notable contributions from Petar Lenert, MD, MSc, PhD, and Ben Davis, MD, PhD. Namrata Singh, MBBS, MSCI, is the principal investigator for the Iowa City VA’s Rheumatoid Arthritis registry which has been the vehicle for a recent successful receipt of a three-year, $375,000 career development award from the Rheumatology Research Foundation.

Petar Lenert, MD, MSc, PhD
Ben Davis, MD, PhD
Namrata Singh, MBBS, MSCI










Tuetken~RebeccaThe division supports clinics for general rheumatology, allergy, and immunology, which account for approximately one-third of the patients seen in the Medical Specialties Clinic under the medical directorship of Rebecca Tuetken, MD, PhD, and Davis.

In addition, the division has been busy developing several specialized clinics and services including a scleroderma clinic, a maternal/lactation clinic, a transitions clinic (for pediatric patients with rheumatic diseases who need adult care), eosinophilic disorders, ocular inflammatory diseases, drug-allergy clinic for those undergoing surgery, and the statewide network for newborn/SCID screening. Ballas~ZuhairWe are also in the process of developing collaborative services for patients with obstructive lung disease and adverse effects from cancer immunotherapy. Zuhair Ballas, MD, has developed a service to help diagnose and treat inpatients with complex diseases. His work garnered the 2017 Best Consulting Provider award.

The division has begun to develop a presence in clinical trials for new therapies of immunologic diseases after having completed recent trials in giant cell arteritis, adult-onset Still’s disease, and asthma. We are in the development process for several others.

Leadership and future directions
Fasano~Mary BethThe division has enjoyed national leadership, as well, with Ballas as the editor-in-chief for the Allergy/Immunology flagship journal, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Mary Beth Fasano, MD, MSPH, has provided leadership in multiple areas within Allergy and Immunology, currently as the president-elect of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. I am the immediate Iowa representative to the Board of Governors for the American College of Physicians after just completing a term as president of the Iowa Chapter of the ACP.

Looking to the future, the division aims to stay happy and healthy as a group, working together toward our goal of leadership in immunology. Specifically, we plan to redesign our web presence, growing and better marketing our specialized clinics and clinical trials. We are actively increasing our clinical research activities and are looking for bright, young physician-scientists that can bridge our robust clinical enterprise with a nationally recognized immunology basic science research group.

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