Michelle L. Manni, PhD

  • Research Assistant Professor of Pediatrics

Manni graduated with honors from Allegheny College in Meadville, PA earning a BS in Biochemistry. She then completed her graduate work at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Under the mentorship of Tim D. Oury, MD, PhD, she studied the role of extracellular superoxide dismutase in pulmonary inflammation resulting from asbestos and bacterial exposures. After graduating with her PhD in 2011, her postdoctoral work focused on the type 17 immune responses in severe asthma with John F. Alcorn, PhD. Throughout her training, she received numerous honors and grants. Most notably, she was awarded a United States Patent in 2015, a Parker B. Francis Foundation fellowship in 2016, and her first R01 in 2020. In addition to her independent work, she also is a co-investigator on cross-discipline, collaborative projects both within and outside of the Department of Pediatrics. 

Manni has authored over 20 manuscripts, has contributed to other scholarly works including reviews and book chapters in areas related to her research, and has taught and mentored many undergraduates, graduates, and medical school students. She also currently serves as the Director of the Laboratory of the Division of Pulmonary Medicine, managing and contributing to numerous NIH-funded clinical research projects. For over a decade, Manni’s research has been focused on understanding the cellular and molecular basis of pulmonary health and disease. Her scientific training and work have been in multiple facets of pulmonary research (lung immunology, inflammation and injury, physiology, pathology, and redox biology), utilizing murine models of human disease to elucidate novel mechanisms of disease pathogenesis. Specifically, the goal of Manni’s current research is to better understand aberrant immune responses in severe asthma, a subset of disease that is poorly responsive to standard therapies and represents a significant source of morbidity and mortality in the western world. While substantial strides have been made in understanding the type 2-high subset of severe asthmatics, a significant proportion of patients still fail to achieve asthma control and there is an unmet need to identify and characterize non-type 2 immune mechanisms of disease. Manni’s research has suggested that T helper 17 (Th17) cells may be critical for pathogenesis of severe asthma, promoting steroid resistant disease characterized by the accumulation of neutrophils in the lungs. In addition to defining severe phenotypes in asthmatics, her work indicates that distinct molecular pathways may regulate each characteristic asthma endpoint (inflammation, mucus metaplasia, airway hyperresponsiveness). In addition to understanding type 2 low, and non-type 2 mechanisms of severe asthma, she is interested in the disconnect between the degree of inflammation and airway hyperresponsiveness in the asthmatic lung and also defining inflammation-independent drivers of airway hyperresponsiveness.

Overall, Manni’s research broadly focuses on T cell immunity, epithelial cell biology, and lung physiology in severe asthma and acute exacerbations. Understanding the pathophysiological mechanisms underlying disease in the less studied clinical subsets of severe asthma is of great interest to her group. Her long-term goal is to improve our scientific knowledge on the different underlying causes of severe asthma to aid in the development and design of more targeted and effective asthma therapies.

Professional and Scientific Society Memberships

  • Society for Free Radical Biology and Medicine, 2007-2011
  • American Society for Investigative Pathology, 2008-2011
  • American Thoracic Society, 2008-Present
  • American Heart Association, 2013-Present
  • The American Association of Immunologists, 2014-Present
  • Women in Bio, 2019-Present

Education & Training

  • BS, Biochemistry, Allegheny College, 2005
  • PhD, Cellular & Molecular Pathology, University of Pittsburgh, 2011
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Pulmonology, University of Pittsburgh, 2016

Selected Publications

Rich HE, Antos D, Melton NR, Alcorn JF, Manni ML.  Insights Into Type I and III Interferons in Asthma and Exacerbations. Frontiers in Immunology. 2020 DOI:10.3389/fimmu.2020.574027

Manni ML, Mandalapu S, Salmeron A, Lora JM, Kolls JK, Alcorn JF. Bromodomain and Extra-Terminal Protein Inhibition Attenuates Neutrophil-dominant Allergic Airway Disease. Sci Rep. 2017 Feb 24; 7: 43139.

Manni ML, Alcorn JF. The Enigmatic Role of IL-22 in Asthma. Expert Rev Respir Med. 2016 Jun; 10(6): 619-23. 

Manni ML, Mandalapu S, McHugh KJ, Elloso MM, Dudas PL, Alcorn JF. Molecular Mechanisms of Airway Hyperresponsiveness in a Murine Model of Steroid-Resistant Airway Inflammation. J Immunol. 2016 Feb 1; 196(3): 963-77.

Manni ML, Trudeau JB, Scheller EV, Mandalapu S, Kolls JK, Wenzel SE, Alcorn JF. 2014. The Complex Relationship Between Inflammation And Lung Function In Severe Asthma. Mucosal Immunology. 7:1186-98.

Academic and Research Interests

  • Severe Asthma
  • Type 17 Immune Responses
  • Asthma Exacerbations
  • Airway Hyperresponsiveness
  • Airway remodeling and Repair
  • Obesity and Asthma
  • Pulmonary Inflammation

Research Grants

1R01HL146445-01, Immune Mediators of IL-22 Signaling Alter Allergic Airway Disease, (PI, 50% effort), 2020-2025, NIH/NHLBI, $2,083,675 (Direct: $1,333,950, Indirect: $749,725)