Candidate Meghan F. Davis, DVM MPH PhD, aspires to an independent, NIH-funded research career evaluating the impacts of microbial exposures of animal origin on health effects in people. For her proposed SERCA K01 award, she first will investigate the contributions of animal bacteria to child bacteria (aim 1), and then link bacterial dysbiosis to exacerbations of disease among inner-city urban children with existing asthma (aim 2) along the following pathway: pest and pet microbiota->child microbiota->child respiratory health. She also will test her hypothesis that individual pathogens also drive asthma morbidity by evaluating S. aureus, a leading candidate bacterium known to worsen atopic eczema through allergic mechanisms, and by establishing a biospecimen repository to investigate other candidate pathogens through future research efforts. Asthma affects almost seven million children in the United States, and this work is positioned to identify novel and modifiable bacterial drivers of morbidity particularly relevant to low-income urban children with asthma, a population with a disproportionate burden of disease. For Dr. Davis, this work and attendant career development program also will provide critical training in human clinical research, bacterial sequencing and big data analysis, and protected time to establish a high-quality independent research program and grow a scientific reputation through grants, publications, and presentations. Primary mentor Dr. Elizabeth Matsui, Associate Professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine (JHSOM), is an allergist and clinical epidemiologist with an outstanding track record of mentorship of K-grant awardees and NIH-sponsored research on the environmental determinants of respiratory disease. Dr. Meredith McCormack, Assistant Professor at JHSOM, provides complementary expertise in the target disease of asthma. Other scientific advisory committee members will assist with microbiome and whole genome sequencing techniques (Drs. Marsha Wills-Karp and Karen Carroll, with external mentor Dr. Elizabeth Grice at the University of Pennsylvania), bioinformatics data processing (Drs. Grice and Kasper Hansen), and statistical analysis resources and training (Drs. Hansen and Roger Peng). This multidisciplinary team also will support Dr. Davis' faculty development and leadership in a one health context and expand her collaborative efforts with faculty in Comparative Medicine (Drs. Wills-Karp, Carroll and Kathleen Gabrielson). Taken as a whole, this research and training platform will position Dr. Davis to succeed as an independent researcher and Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. This supportive institutional environment includes a state-of-the-art genomics core facility, computing and data resources, and an exceptional clinical research program through the School of Medicine. The Johns Hopkins environment also provides access to prominent investigators in pulmonary medicine, allergy and immunology, comparative medicine, and biostatistics. Through a SERCA K01 award, Dr. Meghan Davis will synergize her veterinary clinical background and PhD training in exposure assessment with new skills in bioinformatics, clinical epidemiology and human asthma, emerging as an independent researcher and expert on the human respiratory health effects related to complex microbial exposures of animal origin.

Public Health Relevance

This application is strongly positioned to identify novel bacterial determinants of asthma morbidity, which will pave the way for developing innovative, feasible and low risk interventions to reduce morbidity associated with one of the most common chronic diseases in the US. More specifically, S. aureus and other microbiota may be especially relevant in low-income asthmatic children living in urban neighborhoods, as this population has a disproportionately high burden of morbidity. Because S. aureus is a prevalent and rising exposure and causes health effects related to both infectious and non-infectious diseases, this finding would have important implications for the management of many diseases affected by S. aureus exposure and colonization, such as eczema and chronic rhinosinusitis.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Office of The Director, National Institutes of Health (OD)
Research Scientist Development Award - Research & Training (K01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-IMST-U (80))
Program Officer
Fuchs, Bruce
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Johns Hopkins University
Public Health & Prev Medicine
Schools of Public Health
United States
Zip Code
Berman, J D; McCormack, M C; Koehler, K A et al. (2018) School environmental conditions and links to academic performance and absenteeism in urban, mid-Atlantic public schools. Int J Hyg Environ Health 221:800-808
Davis, Meghan F; Pisanic, Nora; Rhodes, Sarah M et al. (2018) Occurrence of Staphylococcus aureus in swine and swine workplace environments on industrial and antibiotic-free hog operations in North Carolina, USA: A One Health pilot study. Environ Res 163:88-96
Smith, Tara C; Davis, Meghan F; Heaney, Christopher D (2018) Pig Movement and Antimicrobial Use Drive Transmission of Livestock-Associated Staphylococcus aureus CC398. MBio 9:
Davis, Meghan F; Ludwig, Shanna; Brigham, Emily P et al. (2018) Effect of home exposure to Staphylococcus aureus on asthma in adolescents. J Allergy Clin Immunol 141:402-405.e10
Newton, Ashley N; Davis, Meghan; Koehler, Kirsten et al. (2017) Atopy as a Modifier of the Relationships Between Endotoxin Exposure and Symptoms Among Laboratory Animal Workers. Ann Work Expo Health 61:1024-1028
Exum, Natalie G; Kosek, Margaret N; Davis, Meghan F et al. (2017) Surface Sampling Collection and Culture Methods for Escherichia coli in Household Environments with High Fecal Contamination. Int J Environ Res Public Health 14:
Ludwig, Shanna; Jimenez-Bush, Isabel; Brigham, Emily et al. (2017) Analysis of home dust for Staphylococcus aureus and staphylococcal enterotoxin genes using quantitative PCR. Sci Total Environ 581-582:750-755
Davis, Meghan F; Rankin, Shelley C; Schurer, Janna M et al. (2017) Checklist for One Health Epidemiological Reporting of Evidence (COHERE). One Health 4:14-21
Davis, Benjamin J K; Jacobs, John M; Davis, Meghan F et al. (2017) Environmental determinants of Vibrio parahaemolyticus in the Chesapeake Bay. Appl Environ Microbiol :
Shahbazian, J H; Hahn, P D; Ludwig, S et al. (2017) Multidrug and mupirocin resistance in environmental methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) collected from the homes of people diagnosed with a community-onset (CO-) MRSA infection. Appl Environ Microbiol :

Showing the most recent 10 out of 11 publications