Message from the Chief
Patients come to the Mount Sinai Division of Clinical Immunology from throughout the New York metropolitan area, surrounding states, and from across the country for the diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions stemming from immune system dysfunction. They come here because of our storied history as pioneers and because our faculty are among the most respected clinicians and researchers in the field. Our division faculty are international leaders in the diagnosis and treatment of allergic and immune conditions, including pollen, drug, and food allergies, asthma, sinusitis, eosinophilic and mast cell diseases, and immunodeficiency diseases of children and adults.
While the expression “we stand on the shoulders of giants” is true of many specialties at Mount Sinai, it is especially fitting for immunology. The Mount Sinai Hospital has been involved in immunology since early in the 20th century, when immunology was in its infancy. A crucial clinical test called the Schick test was invented by Dr. Béla Schick, a Mount Sinai physician from 1923 to 1936. It is used to determine whether or not a person is susceptible to diphtheria. Dr. Schick and Dr. Clemens von Pirquet first coined the term “allergy” as a clinical diagnosis. Dr. Gregory Schwartzman, a Mount Sinai physician and researcher, first developed the concept of immune hypersensitivity, a condition that later became known as the “Schwartzman phenomenon.” Dr. Schwartzman's accomplishments set a high bar for future Mount Sinai immunologists.
In 1930, Dr. Joseph Harkavy and his colleagues at Mount Sinai identified a new chemical substance that is released during severe allergic reactions. The substance is what immunologists now call SRS-A, or slow-reacting substance of anaphylaxis. Dr. Harkavy was also the first to link cigarette and cigar smoking to allergies and cardiovascular disease.
In addition to these landmark discoveries, the condition “eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis” (Churg–Strauss syndrome) was first described by Dr. Jacob Churg and Dr. Lotte Strauss at Mount Sinai Hospital in 1951.
In the 1950s, Dr. Kermit E. Osserman organized a Myasthenia Clinic. Dr. Osserman sensed the immunological implications of myasthenia long before it was appreciated, and wrote the first text on the subject.
Today’s faculty continue this legacy of leadership in the field, holding prestigious positions including chair and board members of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, president of the Clinical Immunology Society, and president of the New York Allergy and Asthma Society.
Our faculty serve on the editorial boards of leading journals in the field and are the recipients of numerous prestigious honors, including Fellow in the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, the Distinguished Clinician Award from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, the Abbott Award in Clinical and Diagnostic Immunology from the American Society for Microbiology, and the Boyle Achievement Award from the Immune Deficiency Foundation.
The broad spectrum of research and clinical work in the Division and strong collaborative relationships with faculty across the Icahn School of Medicine provide expansive opportunities for our trainees to explore their interests and grow in the career path of their choosing.
I invite you to review our division site, as we are making advancements every day. As a current or prospective faculty member, trainee, supporter, or patient, you’ll discover the benefits of working with our faculty and the exceptional programs we can offer you.
Charlotte Cunningham-Rundles, MD
Acting Chief, Division of Clinical Immunology