970 Parchment Dr SE, Grand Rapids, MI  (616) 949-4840 Patient Portal Make a Payment Request an Appointment

Grand Rapids Allergy

Our Story

Grand Rapids Allergy has been serving our community for over 40 years. All physicians are board-certified in pediatric, adolescent and adult asthma and allergy care. Our staff consists of Registered Nurses specially trained in the fields of allergy and asthma and an outstanding clerical support team, all enthusiastic and dedicated to providing you high quality care. Every patient receives one-on-one education. Teaching includes suggestions for improving your home environment as well as review of each allergy medication, with written instructions on its purpose and dosing schedule.

Extensive asthma education is also available. We focus on identifying allergy triggers to asthma. Together, we establish an asthma treatment plan, including thorough review of medications. We understand the importance of access and prompt communication with you. Our nursing staff is scheduled to answer your questions each weekday between 8am and 5pm.

Convenient Treatment Options

Our allergen injection schedule does not require an appointment after first injection.  Allergy shots are given Monday through Thursday. Hours vary depending on program but are available on our main page.

Some of our patients prefer to receive their injections in their own physician's office. We can prepare your allergen extract and mail it to your home, so that you may arrange administration in a convenient medical setting.

Our Team

Karyn Gell, M.D.

I joined Grand Rapids Allergy in 1992, a practice established by my father, Dr. Leonard “Pete” Gell, and we worked together for ten years prior to his retirement. I graduated from Forest Hills Central High School in Grand Rapids and subsequently Phi Beta Kappa from Albion College, earning my Medical Degree from Michigan State College of Human Medicine. My internship and residency were served at Spectrum Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids, leading to board certification in Internal Medicine. My degree in allergy was earned at the University of Michigan and I am board certified in both adult and pediatric allergy and clinical immunology.

I have long been interested in aerobiology and began pollen and mold counting, initially with a Rotorod sampler, transitioning to a Burkhardt rooftop seven-day recording aeroallergen sampler which I used in a GRAMEC residency research program and won Best Clinical Study, looking at the relationship of basidiospores to asthma emergency room visits. The office subsequently became certified as a pollen and mold counting station for the aeroallergen network for many years.

My primary interests are patient and family focused diagnosis and treatment of individuals of all ages with chronic allergic airway disease such as allergic rhinitis (seasonal and perennial), sinusitis, asthma, food allergy, atopic eczema, urticaria (hives), insect hypersensitivity, and mast cell disorders. Teaching our staff, medical and nursing students and resident physicians as well as participating in local education to the community is something I value, and am a Clinical Assistant Professor at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine.

My husband, Doug Ellinger, M.D., also a native of Grand Rapids, is involved as a radiologist teaching at Michigan State College of Human Medicine. We enjoy biking, gardening, skiing, birding, fishing, and anything out-of-doors in a rural dirt road setting, especially when joined by our adult children Elizabeth and Peter.

Christine Schafer, M.D.

I joined the practice in 2001 after a military career in the U.S. Air Force. I graduated from the Uniformed Services University Medical School, followed by Residency in Pediatrics at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. My Fellowship in Allergy/Immunology was completed at Wilford Hall in San Antonio, a leading Air Force training hospital. I was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and Chief of Allergy/Immunology at Keesler Medical Center in Mississippi. I am board certified by the American Board of Allergy and Immunology as well as the American Board of Pediatrics.

I am active in the West Michigan community that is now home through participation in asthma screenings at Y.M.C.A and Fifth Third Ballpark, Walk for Food Allergy, and local allergy lectures in a “Lunch and Learn” format for local businesses. I am involved in physician education as a Clinical Assistant Professor at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine and I serve as a Resident instructor for the Grand Rapids Medical Education and Research Center, providing Grand Rounds and asthma and allergy lectures for local Primary Care Providers as well as updates on allergy for local TV and radio.

My husband, Brian Schafer, M.D., a Cardiologist, and I have four children. We share our enjoyment of music together in a family band. Quiet times are spent in a remote cabin in the woods.

Sara J. Uekert, M.D.

I am a native of Grand Rapids and graduated in the top 4% of my class at Calvin College. I received my Medical Degree from Wayne State University and my degree in Asthma, Allergy, and Clinical Immunology from the University of Wisconsin in Madison. There I trained with some of the nation’s leading asthma and allergy specialists. I have presented my research nationally and published my fellowship research on pediatric asthma. I am board certified by the American Board of Allergy and Immunology and the American Board of Pediatrics. I enjoy treating patients of all ages in the diagnosis and management of allergic respiratory disease (asthma, allergic rhinitis, chronic sinusitis/otitis), food allergy and intolerance, atopic eczema, stinging insect allergy, and chronic hives. I also specialize in aspirin desensitization.

With my strong interest in food allergy, I established the GRA Food Allergy Center of Excellence shortly after joining the practice with the goal to provide a forum for patients and families with food allergy to gain knowledge and support. I also have a strong interest in community education and participate in asthma screenings, allergy preparedness for schools, and community presentations on allergic disease. I am an advocate for education and routinely provide lectures for local physician groups and hospitals. As a Clinical Assistant Professor at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, I help educate medical and nursing students and medical residents. I also enjoy providing updates on allergy for local television and radio.

My family and I enjoy spending time outdoors, camping, hiking and swimming. We look forward to exploring new regions of our country on family vacations to caves, mountains, canyons and anywhere the map leads us. Our three children keep us busy with multiple sports, church and school activities. I also enjoy photography and gardening.

Renee Bell, C-N.P.

I grew up in Midland, Michigan and graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing. Upon graduating, I served as a Registered Nurse in the United States Navy. After leaving the military, I worked for many years in the emergency department in Norfolk, Virginia. I completed my Master of Science in Nursing at Old Dominion University as a Family Nurse Practitioner. I worked for several years in family practice and urgent care in Virginia and Michigan prior to joining the team at Grand Rapids Allergy. My husband and I have two daughters and a variety of family pets. I enjoy running, reading, going “up north” and most of all, spending time with my family.

Mary Blauw, C-N.P.

I have been a part of the Grand Rapids Allergy family since 2010. I got my bachelors of nursing degree from Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI and a masters in nursing practice from Walden University. I moved into a provider role in 2014 and have had the advantage of 11+ years of close apprenticeship with our board certified allergy team. I am a native of Grand Rapids and love all the things that Michigan has to offer. As a mom I appreciate how the difficulties of having children with allergies, food allergies, asthma or eczema can impact the quality of life of the family and bring this perspective to my care plans.

Sarah VanDeven, C-N.P.

I am originally from Holland, Michigan and a graduate of Hope College with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.  Upon graduating, I worked in the medical intensive care unit at Northwestern Memorial Hospital downtown Chicago.  From there, I obtained my Master of Science in Nursing at the University of Maryland, Baltimore as a Family Nurse Practitioner.  I am a board certified family nurse practitioner through the AANP (American Association of Nurse Practitioners). I worked in Maryland and Pennsylvania in the field of Allergy and Asthma for a few years before returning to Michigan with my husband to raise a family.  We have 4 children and enjoy our time travelling, skiing, swimming, running and being a busy family!   

Pamela Parish Smith, MS, RD, CDE

I am a native of Grand Rapids and recently returned after living and working in Texas, Tennessee, Indiana and St. Joseph, Michigan!  I received my  Bachelors of Science degree from Michigan State University, and have a  Masters in Nutrition from Texas A&M. I am certified in adult weight management from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and am also a certified diabetes educator (CDE).   I understand that food is a very personal thing and like to emphasize all the wonderful and delicious foods you can have that add variety while nourishing our bodies. I am very passionate about meeting clients where they are and walking with them on their journey to better health.   My husband and I have six children between us and we enjoy outdoor activities,  travel, reading, and  any activity that involves being in or on or near water!

Lisa Heyboer, RN (Asthma Educator)

I was born and raised in Grandville Michigan, which is where I currently live with my husband Rick and our 2 children--Ashley and Jacob.

I was hired into the Grand Rapids Allergy family as a Registered Nurse back in 1999. I have worked with our highly specialized food allergy patients and community outreach programs. I enjoyed going into area schools and interactively presenting food allergy to young students and select staff. Most recently, I became nationally certified as an Asthma Educator in 2018.

I enjoy reading and writing, attending numerous school and athletic events, and camping with my family.