Department of Medicine

University of Pittsburgh

Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine
3459 Fifth Avenue,
628 NW
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Academic Office: (412) 692-2210
Comprehensive Lung Center (Patient Care and Referral): (412) 648-6161

Sally Wenzel, MD

Professor of Medicine
Director, Asthma Institute

NW 931 Montefiore Hospital
3459 Fifth Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Academic office: 412-864-2615
Patient appointments: 412-648-6161
Fax: 412-605-1999

Assistant: Emily Stilwell
Assistant Email:


Dr. Wenzel completed her MD degree at the University of Florida. Following her residency in internal medicine at Wake Forest University and her fellowship in pulmonary and critical care medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University, she spent 19 yrs at National Jewish and the University of Colorado where she rose to the rank of Professor of Medicine. During her years at National Jewish, she served on the Pulmonary–Allergy Advisory Committee to the FDA, was Assembly Chair for the American Thoracic Society (ATS) section on Allergy, Immunology and Inflammation and chaired the ATS International Conference Committee. She received the Elizabeth Rich Award for her role in promoting women in science. Dr. Wenzel served as Deputy Editor for the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine and served on the LCMI Study Section for NIH grant reviews. She moved to the University of Pittsburgh in 2006 to take a position as director of the Asthma Institute.  

Clinical Interests

Dr. Wenzel has had a passion for understanding and improving the treatment of asthma, in particular severe asthma. She served as Chair of the ATS workshop on severe asthma which developed the international consensus definition of severe asthma. Dr. Wenzel has been listed as one of Castle Connelly’s top doctors in America for over 10 years. She has worked to promote severe asthma as a disease whose pathogenesis goes beyond issues of non-compliance/adherence. Her studies of asthma phenotypes have led the field in understanding the complexities of asthma and she is internationally recognized for her efforts in this area. To this end, she and her colleagues recently described a new asthmatic disease, called “Asthmatic Granulomatosis”. This severe asthma-like disease responds to alternative medications, beyond steroids.

Academic and Research Interests

In relation to her clinical interest in asthma, Dr. Wenzel has developed a strong translational program to study the pathobiology and mechanisms of the human disease. She is one of seven NHLBI funded investigators in the Severe Asthma Research Program (SARP) network. Through SARP and her own efforts, Dr. Wenzel has accumulated a clinical database of nearly 500 subjects with asthma and normal controls, most of whom have matching airway tissue, cells and sputum/lavage. Her lab is one of the very few which is able to match an extensive clinical phenotype of a subject with responses at a cellular/molecular level. Her current bench-lab interests include the role of epithelial cells in controlling airway inflammatory responses, oxidative and nitrative stress, as well as their interactions with mast cells and Th1 immune responses.

The below image shows the theoretical range of factors that may be involved in the development of non-TH2 asthma.

Reprinted with permission of Nature Medicine. Copyright © 2012 Nature America, Inc.
Wenzel, S.E. Asthma phenotypes: the evolution from clinical to molecular approaches. Nature Medicine 18, 716-725 (2012).

The below image shows asthmatic granulomatosis. A granuloma is seen within the Interstitium (hematoxylin and eosin, X400).

Reprinted with permission of the American Thoracic Society. Copyright © 2012 American Thoracic Society.
Wenzel, S.E. Asthmatic Granulomatosis: A Novel Disease with Asthmatic and Granulomatous Features. Am. J Respir and Crit Care Med. 186, 501-507 (2012).
Official journal of the American Thoracic Society.

Epithelial cells play an important role in asthma pathogenesis from mucus production, to iNOS/exhaled nitric oxide, to control of cellular trafficking.  Dr. Wenzel’s lab compares the ex vivo differences in epithelial cells from asthmatics compared to controls and then models these differences in air-liquid interface cell cultures from the same subjects.

figure 3

Key Publications

Wenzel SE, Vitari CA, Shende M, Strollo DC, Larkin A, Yousem SA. Asthmatic Granulomatosis: A Novel Disease with Asthmatic and Granulomatous Features. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2012 Jul;186 501-507PMID: 22773731

Yamamoto M, Tochino Y, Chibana K, Trudeau JB, Holguin F, Wenzel SE. Nitric oxide and related enzymes in asthma: relation to severity, enzyme function and inflammation. Clin Exp Allergy. 2012 May;42(5):760-8. PMID: 22092728

Wenzel SE. Asthma phenotypes: Evolution from clinical to molecular approaches. Nat Med. 2012 May 4; 18(5):716-25. PMID: 22561835

Zhao J, O'Donnell VB, Balzar S, St Croix CM, Trudeau JB, Wenzel SE. 15-Lipoxygenase 1 interacts with phosphatidylethanolamine-binding protein to regulate MAPK signaling in human airway epithelial cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. E-pub 2011 Aug. PMID: 21831839

Gamble C, Talbott E, Youk A, Holguin F, Pitt B, Silveira L, Bleecker E, Busse W, Calhoun W, Castro M, Chung KF, Erzurum S, Israel E, Wenzel SE. Racial differences in biologic predictors of severe asthma: data from the Severe Asthma Research Program. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2010 Nov 2. PMID: 21051082

Balzar S, Fajt M, Comhair S, Erzurum S, Bleecker E, Busse W, Castro M, Gaston B, Israel E, Schwartz LB, Curran-Everett D, Moore C, Wenzel SE. Phenotype, location and activation of mast cells in severe asthma. Data from the Severe Asthma Research Program. E-Pub Sept 2, 2010 Am J Resp Crit Care Med. PMID: 20813890

Busacker A, Newell J Jr., Keefe T, Hoffman E, Granroth J, Castro M, Fain S, Wenzel SE. A multivariate analysis of risk factors for the air-trapping asthmatic phenotype as measured by quantitative CT analysis. Chest. 2009 Jan; 135(1):48-56. Epub.

Wenzel SE, Wilbraham D, Fuller R, Getz EB, Longphre M. Effect of an interleukin-4 variant on late phase asthmatic response to allergen challenge in asthmatic patients: results of two phase 2a studies. Lancet. 2007 Oct 20; 370(9596):1396-8. PMID: 17950857

Wenzel SE, Balzar S, Ampleford E, Hawkins GA, Busse WW, Calhoun WJ, Castro M, Chung KF, Erzurum S, Gaston B, Israel E, Teague WG, Curran-Everett D, Meyers DA, Bleecker ER. IL-4R(alpha) Mutations are Associated with Asthma Exacerbations and Mast Cells/IgE Expression. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2007; 175: 570-576. PMID: 17170387

Moore WC, Bleecker ER, Curran-Everett D, Erzurum SC, Ameredes BT, Bacharier L, Calhoun WJ, Castro M, Chung KF, Clark MP, Dweik RA, Fitzpatrick AM, Gaston B, Hew M, Hussain I, Jarjour NN, Israel E, Levy BD, Murphy JR, Peters SP, Teague WG, Meyers DA, Busse WW, Wenzel SE; for the NHLBI’s Severe Asthma Research Program. Characterization of the severe asthma phenotype by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s Severe Asthma Research Program J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2007; Feb;119(2):405-413

PubMed Link


Dr. Wenzel recently received the American Thoracic Society 2010 Recognition Award for Scientific Accomplishment.