Onyinye Iweala, MD, PhD, an allergist and alpha-gal researcher in the UNC division of rheumatology, allergy & immunology, was granted the three-year Faculty Development Award by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI). The focus of her research will be: “Glycolipids and Invariant Natural Killer T Cells in Alpha-gal Syndrome.”


Onyinye Iweala, MD, PhD, an allergist and alpha-gal researcher in the UNC division of rheumatology, allergy & immunology, was granted the three-year Faculty Development Award by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI). The focus of her research will be: “Glycolipids and Invariant Natural Killer T Cells in Alpha-gal Syndrome.”

image2
Onyinye Iweala, MD, PhD

Alpha-gal syndrome is an allergic condition with global reach. There are reports from around the world describing patients with delayed allergic reactions to mammalian meat. Unfortunately, we have a limited understanding of the mechanisms underlying this condition.

Iweala’s research will explore the role of a subset of fats known as glycolipids in the development of alpha-gal syndrome. Her vision is to broaden our understanding of the role of glycolipids in red meat allergy and in other hypersensitivity disorders.

“If we can crack open some of the mysteries surrounding the mechanisms behind alpha-gal syndrome, we have a chance to shift the way we approach food allergy in general,” says Iweala. “And this could expand future therapeutic targets for treating and preventing alpha-gal syndrome, conventional food allergies, and other allergic conditions.”

An abstract describing Iweala’s research can be found in this 2018 issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Iweala will be among the award recipients being recognized at the 2020 AAAAI Foundation Banquet being held March 14th in Philadelphia.