Neil Patel, MD, Awarded ARS Resident Research Grant to Study Tuft Cells in CRSwNP

August 23, 2022
Neil Patel, MD

The Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF OHNS) is pleased to announce that Neil Patel, MD, MSc, was recently awarded an American Rhinologic Society (ARS) Resident Research Grant!

Dr. Patel received this grant on behalf of the ARS, the American Academy of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery Foundation (AAO-HNSF) and the Centralized Otolaryngology Research Effort (CORE) Study Section for his proposal titled "Role of Chemosensory Tuft Cells in the Pathogenesis of Chronic Rhinosinusitis with Nasal Polyps."

The project explores the role of "tuft cells," which are chemosensory epithelial cells, in the pathogenesis of chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) with nasal polyps. CRS is a common condition, affecting nearly 15% of the US population. Patients with nasal polyps tend to have more severe disease and also tend to have co-morbid asthma, due to underlying overactive type-2 inflammation. Studies have suggested that tuft cells are important triggers of type-2 inflammation.

Tuft cells have biochemistry that is similar to tastebud cells, meaning they have the cellular machinery to taste. Unlike tastebud cells, however, these cells are located in the airway epithelium, including the sinonasal mucosa. The study will correlate tuft cell biology to clinical disease severity of CRS, using transcriptomics to study tuft cell genes. 

In the grant proposal, Dr. Patel notes that the "data will help elucidate the phenotype of tuft cells in the setting of downstream suppression of type 2 inflammatory mediators. If tuft cells are indeed less activated in the presence of dupilumab, the data may suggest feedback circuitry at play regulating tuft cell activity."

Dr. Patel is one of two individuals to receive a resident research award in the amount of $10,000 from the ARS this year. From all of us at UCSF OHNS, congratulations, Dr. Patel!