Dr. Pinto's research program has three major thematic goals:
1) To understand the effect of aging on sinonasal and sensory disorders
2) To determine how genetics, the environment, and social context (and their interaction) modulate susceptibility to these conditions
3) To use this information to develop and test novel treatments for these and other common conditions of the ear, nose, and throat
He utilizes tools from the fields of demography, genetic epidemiology, genomics, public health and sociology to accomplish these goals. Dr. Pinto's research is funded by the National Institute on Aging and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.
Epidemiology of Presbyosmia (Age-Related Olfactory Decline)
We are exploiting data from the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (NSHAP) (led by Linda Waite in Sociology), to study the demographic and other non-genetic factors that are associated with olfactory decline in aging. We have identified race as a key factor that is independently associated with olfactory function and demonstrated that anosmia predicts five year all cause mortality in US adults, providing some the first nationally representative data on this condition. We are also examining the rich array of health and social measures available in NSHAP, including state of the art biomeasures to determine underlying biological mechanisms and environmental determinants. Additional members of the Olfactory Research Group (the ORG) include Martha McClintock in Psychology and William Dale in Geriatric and Palliative Medicine, along with statisticians Kristin Wroblewski and Philip Schumm in Public Health Studies.
Genetics of Presbyosmia
We are employing genome wide association studies in a founder population to identify genetic variation that underlies age-related olfactory loss using quantitative trait loci mapping in collaboration with Carole Ober in Human Genetics. We published the first successful linkage study for an olfactory trait in humans and are pursuing other collaborations (David Bennett, Rush University) to identify genetic contributions to this important disorder.
Genetics of Chronic Rhinosinusitis
We are performing state of the art genetic, epigenetic, and genomic studies of CRS as part of the Chronic Rhinosinusitis Integrated Studies Program, a U19 award from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease in collaboration with Northwestern University (Robert Schleimer) and Johns Hopkins University/Geisinger Health System (Brian Schwartz). The project at The University of Chicago, in partnership with Carole Ober, focuses on genetic variation in pathogen response. Our project is the only National Institutes of Health-funded project on the genetics of this disorder.
The Upper Airway Microbiome
We have shown that the microbial ecology in the middle meatus of the sinuses is altered in allergic subjects, potentially predisposing to disease. We have several ongoing investigations into how the sinonasal microbiome predicts physiological changes in both the upper and lower airway, as well as factors that affect its composition and function. Collaborating on these projects are Robert Naclerio and Fuad Baroody in OHNS, along with Carole Ober and Yoav Gilad in Human Genetics.
Rhinology Clinical Trials and Translational Research
The Nasal Physiology Laboratory, a joint endeavor with Robert Naclerio and Fuad Baroody, runs ongoing clinical trials and translational studies of conditions such as allergic and non-allergic rhinitis, chronic rhinosinusitis, nasal polyposis, and other common conditions. Call 773-702-5889 for details on our current projects.