Instructor of Medicine
Dr. Merritt Fajt completed her undergraduate education at Duke University in Durham, NC where she earned a Bachelor of science in Biology and graduated cum laude in 2000. She then attended medical school at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia, PA and graduated in May 2004. This was followed by Internal Medicine Residency training at the Pennsylvania State University Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, PA which she completed in June 2007. She then began her fellowship in Allergy-Immunology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center which she completed in June 2010. Dr. Fajt is board certified in Allergy and Clinical Immunology and Internal Medicine.
During her fellowship she also began conducting translational research under the direction of Dr. Sally Wenzel. She was supported by a T32 training grant during her 3rd year of fellowship and began her NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service AwardF32 grant in April of 2010. She is currently a Post-doctoral Research Scholar at the University of Pittsburgh and a Clinical Instructor of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Asthma Institute at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center/ University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
Dr. Fajt’s clinical interests include caring for patients with asthma, environmental, food or drug allergies and immunologic disorders. She sees patients during outpatient allergy-immunology clinic at the Comprehensive Lung Center and inpatient consults.
Dr. Fajt’s research over the last several years has focused on the pathobiologic mechanisms of severe asthma and the role of mast cells. While mast cells have been reported in the epithelium, both in the GI tract and in the airway, very little is known regarding the epithelial (and even luminal) mast cells, their phenotype and function in asthma and severe asthma. Dr. Fajt’s research interest involves determining the location, phenotype and function of airway mast cells in severe asthma, as compared to milder asthma and normal control subjects. She conducts studies from a range of sources including endobronchial biopsy, epithelial cells, bronchoalveolar lavage fluid, sputum, and blood samples. Preliminary data strongly suggest that mast cells in severe asthma, rather than being absent, are actually of an altered functional phenotype and directed towards a luminal location. Her studies will continue to focus on the differences in mast cell phenotypes and their modification by epithelial or luminal factors as it relates to the inflammatory and repair processes of asthma. An understanding of the pathobiology of mast cells in severe asthma could lead to new clinical biomarkers and therapeutic targets. Dr. Fajt has presented her data at several national conferences. She was a second author on a paper recently accepted to the American Journal of Critical Care Medicine regarding the role of mast cells in severe asthma.
Immunohistochemistry staining in a paraformaldehye fixed BAL cell cytospin from a severe asthmatic subject showing chymase staining in mast cells.
Increased CPA3 mRNA in the epithelial cells of subjects with severe asthma compared to milder asthma and normal subjects.
Dr. Fajt also participates in medical education. She actively participates in journal club and case conferences with the allergy-immunology fellows and gives monthly lectures to the residents in the medical intensive care unit. She has also served as a small group facilitator for medical students. Through her work in the Asthma Institute, she enjoys participating in various community outreach programs.
Balzar S, Fajt ML, Comhair SA, Erzurum SC, Bleecker E, Busse WW, Castro M, Gaston B, Israel E, Schwartz LB, Curran-Everett D, Moore CG, Wenzel SE. Mast Cell Phenotype, Location and Activation in Severe Asthma. Data from The Severe Asthma Research Program. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2010 Sep 2. [Epub ahead of print]
Fajt M, Wenzel SE. Asthma phenotypes in adults and clinical implications. Expert Rev Respir Med. 2009 Dec;3(6):607-25.
Fajt M, Petrov A. Clopidogrel Hypersensitivity: A Novel Multi-day Outpatient Oral Clopidogrel Desensitization Regimen. Ann Pharmacother. 2010 Jan;44(1):11-8.
Fajt M, Green T. Update on Peanut Allergy in Children. Pediatric Health. 2008 Jun:2(3):367-376.