Meet the Board of Directors: John J. Oppenheimer, MD
John J. Oppenheimer, MD, says allergists should not be dogmatic about how they approach patient care, but rather provide an individualized approach.
“If I had to sum up my 30 years of medicine, it would be defined by an evolution in our attempt to personalize care, whether it is asthma, rhinitis, urticaria or food allergy”, explains Oppenheimer , clinical professor of medicine at UMDNJ Rutgers University School of Medicine, allergist at Pulmonary and Allergy Associates NJ and Healio Allergy/Asthma Peer Perspective board member, told Healio. “That’s the exciting part. We say it’s an art, and we try to bring more science to it in order to be more precise in our choice of colors in the mouth, so to speak.
Oppenheimer spoke with Healio about the advances he’s witnessed in his career and what he foresees for the next big research breakthroughs in the field.
Healio: How did you forthcoming to make allergies your specialty?
John J. Oppenheimer
Oppenheimer: The choice of the field of allergy was made over time when I was in training. I remember watching an allergist caring for someone with asthma. They took a holistic approach to looking at this person’s asthma triggers to see what they could do to really help. I thought that was really remarkable.
Some of the diseases we treat are life-threatening, but overall the majority of what we do is help healthy people be healthier, which is a lot of fun. We are able to work with people of all ages and through your labor of love you are able to provide them with real direction. These diseases can be significant barriers to their quality of life and their life as a whole, and sometimes we can make their life incredibly better. My main goal is to treat people with asthma, coughs and food allergies.
Helio: What challenges do you regularly encounter in practice that keep you up at night??
Oppenheimer: One of the challenges is managing the hurdles brought by the new healthcare paradigm, but what keeps me up at night is making sure I stay up to date with all the changes happening in the many aspects of allergy – food allergy, hives, asthma, rhinitis and cough. Each of them has a remarkably robust body of literature that is thriving.
I am amazed at how fast medicine is changing. The knowledge base is growing so fast, which is amazing to see. We are applying new technologies and I look forward to using artificial intelligence in our approach to care. We are also starting to think about genetics beyond just patient phenotypes. We move from simply identifying a patient’s asthma triggers to examining their genetic makeup which may explain how they respond best to therapy. For me, it’s really upsetting.
Healio: What do you enjoy doing outside of clinical practice?
Oppenheimer: I like to ride my bike and my hobby is ham radio which is quite unusual but great fun.
Healio: What research have you worked on?
Oppenheimer: I have done research to try to improve the phenotypic response to asthma treatment. I was one of the authors of the CAPTAIN study, published last year, which was a pivotal trial for the single inhaler fluticasone furoate plus umeclidinium plus vilanterol (Trelegy Ellipta, GlaxoSmithKline) – this therapy is a combination of a long-acting muscarinic antagonist, a – acting bronchodilator and an inhaled steroid. In the trial, we designed analyzes to try to better stratify the likelihood of response based on the patient’s physical characteristics, such as whether they have allergic asthma, have high peripheral eosinophil counts, etc. ., and we have a few items coming out. on these results.
Healio: What advances are you most looking forward to over the next 10 years?
Oppenheimer: I look forward to our use of biological agents to provide greater precision in our care. The organic products we have so far have really forced us to re-evaluate everything we do to optimize delivery. During my life as an asthma specialist, we used to look at people and say, “If you have asthma, you’re going to be treated with X, Y, and Z.” Everyone was treated exactly the same. Now we recognize that some people with asthma have high T2, so they have an allergic phenotype, and we would treat them more aggressively with inhaled steroids. Another group of patients are low T2, and we’re going to treat them more aggressively with bronchodilators.
Similarly, in the case of food allergies, we have learned a lot. Thirty years ago, if someone had an egg allergy and I told them I was going to give them a pastry with eggs, you would have thought I was a bad doctor. We’re even starting to recommend the early introduction of foods because they can have downstream effects by reducing the likelihood of being allergic, as the LEAP study learned.
It’s all very exciting, and I’m very happy to see it all evolve.
For more information:
John J. Oppenheimer, MD, can be reached at [email protected]