Ballinger_Megan_460x460 Lab: 355 DHLRI
Office: 305A


I received a bachelor's degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Toledo where I became interested in a career in basic/translational research while working in a molecular parasitology lab investigating how to inhibit pharyngeal pumping as a mechanism to eliminate nematodes from the gut. From there, I traveled north to the University of Michigan and graduated with a PhD in Immunology. My research focused on the role of lipid mediators in regulating lung host defense function of macrophages and neutrophils following bone marrow transplantation. I remained at the University of Michigan and completed two postdoctoral research fellowships focused on understanding innate immunology within the lung microenvironment. My first postdoc focused focusing on cAMP signaling pathways in regulating macrophage phagocytosis and killing of bacteria. Then I switched my focus to understanding the role of Toll-like receptor signaling after hyperoxia in a model of non-infectious lung injury. In 2014, I secured a faculty position at The Ohio State University in the Department of Internal Medicine and Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine.

The focus of my research lab is to investigate the role of macrophages during both health and disease. Our work has shown tha there are several different subpopulations of macrophages present within the lungs. During injury or inflammation there is a decrease in the tissue resident alveolar macrophages and an increase in monocyte-derived macrophages. We are actively investigating mechanisms that regulate the release of monocytes from the bone marrow, the recruitment of monocytes from the bloodstream into the lungs and the differentiation and activation of these cells within the lung microenvironment. Our work focuses on investigating cell-to-cell interactions that occur during normal homeostasis as well as during chronic lung diseases, such as pulmonary fibrosis or allergic asthmatic inflammation. Additionally, since the lung is a mechanically active organ, that is always moving during breathing, we are interested in developing novel models to investigate the role of mechanical force and stiffness and how these forces contribute to disease progression.

Research Interests

  • Macrophage and monocyte biology
  • Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Toll-like receptor signaling
  • Allergic inflammation and asthma
  • Environmental exacerbation of chronic lung disease

Current Research

  • Investigating the role of macrophage TLR signaling in regulating pulmonary fibrosis
  • Understanding macrophage-fibroblast interactions during pulmonary fibrosis
  • Investigating mechanisms of ozone-induced allergic inflammation causing asthma exacerbations

Active Funding

  1. NIH/NHLBI R01HL141217
    The Pivotal Role of Macrophages in Regulating Pulmonary Fibrosis
  2. NIH/NHLBI R43HL165998
    The role of Oxy210 in regulating pulmonary fibrosis


Post-doctoral Research Fellowship
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI

PhD in Immunology
Program in Biomedical Sciences
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI

Bachelor of Science (Honors)-Magna Cum Laude
Major: Biological Science; Minor: Biochemistry
University of Toledo
Toledo, OH


  • American Journal of Cell and Molecular Biology Top Review Award, 2021
  • ATS Allergy, Immunology and Inflammation Early Career Achievement Awardee, 2019
  • Jo Rae Wright Award for Outstanding Science, American Thoracic Society, 2016
  • Parker B. Francis Fellowship, 2012
  • Internal Medicine Research Day Abstract Finalist, 2010
  • Keystone Symposium Scholarship Winner, 2009
  • Hartwell Foundation Fellowship , 2008
  • The Miller Fund Award for Innovative Immunology Research, 2005
  • Graduate of University of Toledo Honors College, University of Toledo, 2002
  • Sullivan Research Fellowship, 2000
  • University of Toledo Academic Scholarship, University of Toledo, 1998


Alveolar macrophages drive lung fibroblast function during idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Novak CM, Sethuraman S, Luikart KL, Reader BF, Wheat J, Whitson B, Ghadiali SN, Ballinger MN. Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol 2023 Apr 1;324(4):L507-520.

Ho K, Weimar D, Torres-Matias G, Lee H, Shamsi S, Shalosky E, Yaegar M, Hartzler-Lovins H, Dunigan-Russel K, Jelic D, Novak CM, Gowdy KM, Englert JA, Ballinger MN. Ozone impairs endogenous compensatory responses in allergic asthma. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2023, Jan 15;459:116341

Reader BF, Sethuraman S, Hay BR, Thomas Becket RV, Karpurapu M, Chung S, Lee YG, Christman JW, Ballinger MN. IRAK-M Regulates Monocyte Trafficking to the Lungs in Response to Bleomycin Challenge. J Immunol. 2020 May 15:204(10):2661-2670.

Lee YG, Reader BF, Herman D, Streicher A, Englert JA, Ziegler M, Chung S, Karpurapu M, Park GY, Christman JW, Ballinger MN.Sirtuin 2 enhances allergic asthmatic inflammation JCI Insight. 2019 Jan 22. pii: 124710. doi: 10.1172/jci.insight.124710. 

View PubMed Articles

View CV