Carmelo Carmona-Rivera, Ph.D., received his doctoral degree from the University of Puerto Rico, School of Medicine, where he worked on the biochemistry aspects of a genetic condition called Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome (HPS). Subsequently, Dr. Carmona-Rivera participated in research under the mentorship of Dr. William Gahl at NHGRI that identified a novel causing-gene of HPS. He joined the Systemic Autoimmunity Branch at the NIAMS in 2013, where he is now a Staff Scientist.
Dr. Carmona-Rivera focuses on the cellular, biochemical, and molecular aspects of neutrophil extracellular trap (NET) formation and its impact on autoinflammatory/autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), vasculitis, and hidradenitis suppurativa (HS). He has led research involving identifying important players in joint degradation in RA, signatures/pathways involved in HS skin manifestation, and NET-related proteins implicated in organ damage in SLE.
Among his honors and awards are the NIH Merit Award in 2019 for his contribution to the understanding of autoimmune diseases, the Young Investigator Award from the Neutrophil Conference in 2018, and multiple awards from the NIAMS for his outstanding research.
Neutrophil extracellular trap (NET) formation is a neutrophil-programmed cell death characterized by the release of chromatin fibers decorated with granule, cytoplasmic, and enzymatic proteins. This mechanism may promote the exposure of autoantigens normally sheltered from immune recognition. The possible underlying role of NETs in the pathogenesis of autoinflammatory or autoimmune conditions such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) is a major research focus.
Specifically, Dr. Carmona-Rivera studies how NETs promote adaptive immune dysregulation and organ damage. Proteins within NETs are post-translationally modified ( for example, via citrullination, carbamylation, ubiquitination, etc.), creating neoantigens that may trigger an autoimmune response leading to autoantibody formation. Dr. Carmona-Rivera also has an interest in exploring how post-translational modifications present in NETs contribute to the development of autoimmune responses and end-organ damage.