Jacksonville Researcher Wins Award For Study On Asthma In African American Community

Jul 21, 2015

Dr. Brian Seymour conducts an experiment in his laboratory at Edward Waters College.
Credit Edward Waters College

A faculty member from Jacksonville’s Edward Waters College won an award last Friday for his medical research on asthma and allergies affecting African Americans.

The Historically Black College or University Awards presented Dr. Brian Seymour with the award at a ceremony held at Hampton University in Virginia.

Seymour is the research director for the Edward Waters College Center for the Prevention of Health Disparities.

During an appearance on WJCT's “First Coast Connect,” Seymour talked about his recent study and future plans for his research.

He says he collected 200 blood samples from Jacksonville residents living in Health Zone 1.

Health Zone 1 includes the urban core, and parts of the North and Northeast side of the city.

“Health Zone 1 is the poorest zone of the six health zones,” Seymour said. “We have high rates of not just asthma, but we have high rates of STDs, HIV, diabetes and so on.”

Seymour says his study measured the levels of a specific antibody in the bloodstream.

“This antibody’s in everyone’s blood, but if you’re allergic or if you have allergic asthma, or if you have [a] parasitic infection, it is elevated,” Seymour said.

He says his team found five to six percent of the 200 participants had significant elevated levels of this antibody.

“It is basically a mistake in our immune system that pushes us to develop a large amount of these antibodies,” Seymour said.

He says this study is only the first phase of the research he would like to conduct. He says phase two includes finding out what people are inhaling, and what is causing the elevated levels of this antibody.

“What is the reason for these high levels of allergies and asthma in our community?” Seymour said. “We have people living on contaminated land. Health zone one is known to have the highest rate of lead in the community, in the housing.”

He says his team is also going to look at fungal exposure in the community.

“A lot of these things may have something to do with the high levels of asthma and the high emergency room visits of the people in our community with respects to asthma and allergy,” Seymour said.

He also says his team’s main goal close the health disparity gap in Jacksonville.

Listen to the full conversation with Dr. Brian Seymour on Tuesday’s episode of the “First Coast Connect” podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.