Asthma Clinical Research Center | Meet Our Team

Wanda Phipatanakul, MD, MS

Wanda Phipatanakul, MD, MS (Principal Investigator/Director), has dedicated much of her career to clinical research aimed at reducing and preventing asthma and allergic diseases in children, particularly inner-city children. She directs the Asthma Clinical Research Center at Boston Children's Hospital and is a Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.

Originally from St. Louis, she earned her medical degree from Loma Linda University in 1994 and completed her residency in pediatrics at Children's Hospital Los Angeles in 1997. After completing a fellowship in allergy and immunology at Johns Hopkins University in 2000, she joined the faculty in the Division of Immunology and Allergy at Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, where she has remained since 2000. She holds a Master of Science in clinical epidemiology from the Harvard School of Public Health.

Dr.Phipatanakul has built a deep network of community relationships, and she conducts both school- and home-based asthma studies with inner-city children. From there, she leads a comprehensive National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded school-based environmental trial, the School Inner-City Asthma Intervention Study and was recently awarded a new NHLBI R01 comprehensively evaluating environmental exposures and sleep disordered breathing in children. Dr. Phipatanakul is also the Boston pediatric principal investigator for the NHLBI AsthmaNet and the Severe Asthma Research Program and the PreCISE network. She is also the Boston site PI for a multicenter primary asthma prevention study evaluating killed bacterial lysate in babies, a vitamin D trial in school-aged children with asthma, and the overall PI for a NIAID funded, nationwide, multicenter asthma prevention study evaluating omalizumab (anti-IgE) in preventing the allergic asthma march in allergic, wheezing toddlers. She has authored 200 publications in scientific journals, including JAMA and the New England Journal of Medicine and has had continuous NIH funding for 15 years. She was recently elected to the American Society for Clinical Investigation.

Amparito Cunningham, MD, MPH (Clinical Trials Manager): Ampa has been with the ACRC for over 8 years. She received her M.D from La Universidad Catolica del Ecuador in Quito in 2004 and her MPH from Boston University School of Public Health in 2016. Ampa provides pivotal strategic and tactical planning to the ACRC's large multi-center NIH funded clinical trials. She is the backbone of support for the group and her team of Research Assistants who admire her greatly.

Jennifer Rooney, MS (Clinical Research Specialist) has a B.S in Environmental Science from Univeristy of Massachusetts Boston and an M.S in Environmental Health Data Analytics from Boston University School of Public Health where she focused on environmental risk factors for asthma in Boston. She has worked on pediatric clinical trials at MGH and now Boston Children's Hospital and loves working with kids. A fun fact about her is that she taught middle school science for a year!

Clinical Research Assistants

Aiza Zia (Clinical Research Assistant II) graduated from Simmons College with a double major in Public Health and Biochemistry, and a minor in Physics. Having worked in the children's department of her town library and as a summer camp counselor for kids, Aiza is excited to bring her experiences to Boston Children's Hospital, working with the kids participating in our asthma studies. She is particularly looking forward to going to medical school and becoming a primary care pediatrician, as she loves working with kids of all ages. Outside of work, Aiza enjoys training towards earning her black belt in taekwondo, and scrapbooking.

Ethan Ansel-Kelly received his Bachelor's degree in Environmental Science from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He has worked in water conservation, pest management, and is interested in the implications of environmental quality on public health issues. Outside of the office, he enjoys travelling, seeing live music, and finding and cooking delicious food. Last year he flew to Nashville to watch the total solar eclipse, and now hopes to travel to see more when they come around!

Alma Castillo Hernandez Alma went to the University of South Florida and hold a dual degree in Behavioral Healthcare Research and Biomedical Sciences. She has a passion for service to her community and community research. She led a study in rural Latino education and motivation during her undergraduate career. Her favorite part of working for the ACRC is getting to work with parents and their children, particularly Spanish speakers, and incorporating them into our studies which have the potential to help their symptoms. Outside of the office she can be found cheering for her favorite soccer teams, going to concerts, and exploring her new city.

Vanessa Konzelmann Vanessa graduated from the Boston College Honors Program with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Medical Humanities. Vanessa worked closely with a clinic in Xela, Guatemala through BC’s chapter of Timmy Global Health, and was awarded two Grants at Boston College to become fluent in medical Spanish and to help pilot a pediatric Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at the Xela clinic. Her favorite part about working at the ACRC is getting to interact with so many families and kiddos on a daily basis! She plans to apply to PA school and earn an MPH one day. She is originally from the Jersey Shore area and loves the beach! 

Anna Ramsey Anna graduated from Colby College this past May and has a B.A in Biology and Environmental Science. She is excited about her new position with the ACRC because it allows her to continue her passion of research while getting the opportunity to work with pediatric patients in the country's best #1 children's hospital. Her goal is to become a PA and receive an MPH. Outside of work you can find her Nordic skiiing, hiking the White Mountains, going on long runs, and traveling.

Robert Rega Robbie graduated from Northeastern University with a degree in Mathematics. Robbie has taught English as a second language and volunteered at the Brigham as a medical interpreter. He enjoys doing visits for our studies in homes and schools and getting to truly know the community. He is currently applying to medical school. Outside of work Robbie enjoys going to the gym, watching his favorite sitcoms, and astronomy.

Julianne Saia studied public health and graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in spring of 2017. She loves science and is especially interested in global health. She has enjoyed learning about asthma and allergies and is hopeful that our asthma studies can help kids in the Boston area to breathe easier. She loves nature, being outside in the sun, and the ocean! A fun fact about her is that she is scuba certified.

Cristina Vasquez-Muniz graduated from Tufts University with a degree in International Relations, concentrating in Global Health, Nutrition and the Environment. In the future she hopes to study law, with the goal of improving access and equity when it comes to healthcare. As a transplant from St. Louis, Missouri, her favorite part of being on the ACRC team is getting to meet all of the wonderful families all over Boston that participate in our studies! She also loves over-using exclamation points! In her free time, she enjoys reading, playing video games, airsoft, cooking, and most Friday nights she can be found in her local game shop playing Magic until closing time.