Kumar education award to strengthen Iowa’s Allergy / Immunology fellowship curriculum

Bharat Kumar, MD, MME, Associate Rheumatology Fellowship Program Director and Clinical Assistant Professor in Immunology, received the 2021 American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) Educator Development Award. The one-year, $45,000 award will fund Kumar’s project, “Development of an Autoimmune Disease and Immunomodulator Use Online Curriculum for Allergy/Immunology Fellows.” Kumar will be recognized during the 2021 AAAAI and AAAAI Foundation Virtual Awards Celebration on Friday, February 26.

With better knowledge about how the immune system touches virtually every aspect of human illness, as well as the development of immunemodulators that change the way the immune system works, it has become crucial for Allergy/Immunology fellows to understand autoimmune diseases and immunomodulators.

However, fellows encounter several barriers, including a lack of a standard Allergy/Immunology fellow curriculum, overdependence on local resources for learning, and an absence of validated assessment tools. To overcome these obstacles, Kumar, along with an interdisciplinary team, will develop an online curriculum with 10 modules covering the principles of diagnosing autoimmune disease and managing immune dysfunction through immunomodulators. 

Guided by the principles of adult learning theory, the curriculum will incorporate interactive activities, innovative exercises, and progress tests that will enable fellows to reflect and reinforce their knowledge and skills.

“There’s a tectonic change in the way we think about immune dysfunction—it’s no longer too little (immune deficiency) or too much (autoimmunity), but a dynamic mix, where people can have bits of both at the same time,” Kumar said. “To keep up with these scientific advances, the next generation of allergists/immunologists must develop the necessary knowledge and skills to care for patients with complex immune dysfunction disorders.”

Kumar will collaborate with Professor in Immunology Zuhair Ballas, MD; Immunology Division Director Scott Vogelgesang, MD; Vice Chair for Education and Internal Medicine Residency Program Director Manish Suneja, MD; and Associate Director of Program Evaluation in the Office of Consultation & Research in Medical Education Patrick Barlow, PhD.

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