Dr. Dennis Ownby, former chief of the Section of Allergy, Immunology and Rheumatology at the Medical College of Georgia, is the recipient of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology's 2022 Distinguished Clinician Recognition Award.
He will receive the award, which recognizes leaders in the field who have also been active in the academy, at the group's annual meeting Feb. 26 in Phoenix.
Ownby, along with a team from Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, led landmark studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association two decades ago that found children who grow up with pets in their homes actually had a significantly reduced risk of developing common allergies, some by 50% or more. The results of their study, which followed hundreds of children from birth to nearly age seven, changed what allergists had touted and what many parents had lived by for years.
Ownby is a co-program director on a $14.6 million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases that aims to further examine relationships between environmental factors, especially pets, and the normal bacteria children acquire in their gut which strongly influence the risk of allergic asthma.
He has served the AAAI as chair of eight committees, including the Latex, Allergy, Abstract Review and Annual Meeting Program Committees. He served on its Board of Directors from 2002-05 and on the editorial board of its Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology from 1990-95.
He chaired the American Board of Allergy and Immunology in 1998 and co-chaired the American College of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology Board Review Course from 2010-12. He also co-chaired the Asthma Committee of Georgia's Pediatric Healthcare Improvement Coalition from 2013-15.
Ownby is past chair of the Infectious Diseases, Reproductive Health, Asthma and Pulmonary Conditions Study Section of the National Institutes of Health; a Data and Safety Monitoring Board for Asthma and Allergic Diseases of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; and the Allergenic Products Advisory Committee and the Pulmonary-Allergy Drugs Advisory Committee of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
He was chief of the Division of Allergy and Immunology and Betty B. Wray Chair of Allergy and Immunology in the MCG Department of Pediatrics until his retirement in 2012. Ownby came back to MCG part-time in 2013.
He earned his medical degree from the Medical College of Ohio in Toledo and completed a pediatric residency and allergy, immunology and pulmonary disease fellowship at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.