Michelle L. Hernandez, MD

Associate Professor of Pediatrics

Director of NC Child Health Research Network

Dr. Hernandez completed medical school at the UNC School of Medicine, and stayed at UNC for her residency in Pediatrics. She completed her AI fellowship at the University of California San Diego in 2007, where her research was focused on murine models of otitis media, and the study of toll-like receptors. She returned to NC as an assistant professor in 2007 and transitioned from mouse models to translational research. She completed the K30 Clinical Scholars curriculum in 2009 where she received formalized training in translational research methods. Michelle is interested in the identification of novel interventions for difficult-to-treat asthma. Her clinical research interests include severe asthma, immunodeficiency, and autoinflammatory syndromes.


In the clinic: Dr. Hernandez is board certified in Pediatrics and Allergy & Immunology. She is the Associate Director of the NC Children’s Allergy & Asthma Center. Her clinic is primarily focused on the treatment of severe asthma, humoral immunodeficiency, and auto-inflammatory disorders including the periodic fever syndromes.


In the Lab: Dr. Hernandez conducts phase I/II clinical studies in human volunteers with asthma.  She currently has a R01 award from the NHLBI examining the role of IL-1 beta in acute asthma exacerbations.  She is also examining the role of e-cigarettes on modulating the immune response to nasal allergen challenge.


Additionally, Michelle heads several clinical studies focused out of the NC Children’s Allergy & Asthma Center in Raleigh, NC examining patient-reported outcomes of asthma control in children, the use of technology to  improve asthma management, and evaluating the effectiveness of inhaled corticosteroid therapy during asthma exacerbations.  Michelle recently assumed the role of Director of NC Child Health Research Network as part of the NC TraCS Institute.


Grants and Collaborative Projects


R01 HL135235-01


IL-1 receptor blockade as a novel treatment for exacerbation of allergic airway responses in humans

Anakinra is a FDA-approved IL-1 receptor antagonist with a fast onset of action and short half-life.  We are using randomized, placebo controlled trial designs to examine the effect of the IL-1 receptor antagonist, anakinra, as a rescue treatment for features of viral- and allergen-induced airway inflammatory response and airway hyperreactivity in allergic volunteers.

Role: Principal Investigator


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Translational Research Center for Environmental Medicine and Toxicology

The primary mission of the UNC Center for Environmental Medicine, Asthma and Lung Biology is to improve understanding of the impact of environmental factors on human health, with the goal of generating knowledge to inform public policy decisions regarding pollution control and develop personal mitigation strategies for susceptible populations. A collaborative research program with the Environmental Public Health Division of the US EPA has traditionally emphasized translational studies of the effect of pollutants on lung disease and biology, specifically pollutant effects in asthma, allergy and respiratory host defense.

Role:  Project 3 Leader, IL-1β and Anakinra in modulation of O3-induced inflammation in asthma



P01 HL108808-06


Development of Novel Mycolytic Therapies for Lung Disease

We are testing a novel mucolytic against Cystic Fibrosis and Asthma, using complementary murine models of these disease processes.  Project 4 is using inhaled allergen challenge models to test mucolytics against allergic asthma.

Role: Co-investigator


R01 ES025124-01A1 (Peden)

Gamma Tocopherol chemoprevention of woodsmoke PM2.5-induced airway inflammation
In this project, we will examine the ability of supplementation with gamma tocopherol (gT), a form of naturally occurring vitamin E, to prevent lung and systemic inflammation following exposure to wood smoke particiles (WSP) in healthy and asthmatic volunteers.

Role: Co-Investigator


2012-1067-05 (Hernandez)

NSF/NCSU Subcontract
Nanosystems Engineering Research Center for Advanced Self-Powered Systems of Integrated Sensors and Technologies (ASSIST)
The focus of our subcontract is for UNC to provide the interface between the sensor development team and the medical research community. Dr. Hernandez will lead collaborative studies testing wearable personal environmental and health monitors in the controlled exposure chambers in the US EPA Health Studies Facility, and work with investigators on testing a portable spirometer device with adolescent asthmatics.

Role: Site Principal Investigator


UL1TR002489-01 (Buse)


UNC Clinical and Translational Science Award

Major Goals:  A national consortium of medical research institutions, funded through Clinical and Translational Science Awards, is working together and shares a common vision:  to improve the way biomedical research is conducted across the country, reduce the time it takes for laboratory discoveries to become treatments for patients, engage communities in clinical research efforts, and train the next generation of clinical and translational researchers.

Role: Co-Investigator