Mariana Kaplan, M.D., joined the NIAMS as Chief of the Systemic Autoimmunity Branch in 2013. She is also Deputy Scientific Director. Before her appointment, she was a Professor of Medicine in the Division of Rheumatology at the University of Michigan. Dr. Kaplan obtained her medical degree at the National Autonomous University of Mexico and did her Internal Medicine Residency at the National Institute of Medical Sciences and Nutrition in Mexico City. She then completed her Rheumatology Fellowship and postdoctoral training at the University of Michigan, where she was a member of the faculty for 15 years and an active member of their Multidisciplinary Lupus Clinic.
In addition to her research activities, Dr. Kaplan is an active clinician and teacher. She sees lupus patients in the NIH Clinical Research Center and is involved in the development of various clinical trials for patients with autoimmune diseases at the NIH. She has served in numerous roles at the American College of Rheumatology/Rheumatology Research Foundation, the American Association of Immunologists, and the Lupus Foundation of America. Dr. Kaplan was inducted into the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians (AAP) in addition to receiving the Henry Kunkel Young Investigator Award and the Edmund L. Dubois Memorial Lectureship, both from the American College of Rheumatology. She received the 2015 Evelyn V. Hess Award from the Lupus Foundation of America in recognition of her significant contributions to lupus research, diagnosis, and treatment. In 2016, she received the Charles L. Christian Award for significant impact on the understanding of lupus. Dr. Kaplan is on the editorial board of the Journal of Clinical Investigation and deputy editor of Arthritis & Rheumatology. She is currently a Council member at the AAP.
In 2021, she was elected to the National Academy of Medicine for seminal contributions that have significantly advanced the understanding of the pathogenic role of the innate immune system in systemic autoimmune diseases, atherosclerosis, and immune-mediated vasculopathies.
In 2023, Dr. Kaplan was promoted to the title of NIH Distinguished Investigator. NIH Distinguished Investigators have established a record of career-high achievements and are considered NIH’s most preeminent Senior Investigators (top 2-3%), with entrance requiring a special peer review and approval by the Director, NIH.
Dr. Kaplan's research has focused on identifying mechanisms of immune dysregulation, organ damage, and premature vascular disease in systemic autoimmunity. More specifically, she investigates how innate immunity (in particular, type I interferons and myeloid cells) promote autoimmune responses and end-organ damage in systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, and other systemic autoimmune diseases. Recently, her research has focused on identifying abnormalities of neutrophil subsets and the role of neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) in systemic autoimmune disorders, both of which may contribute to the development of autoimmune responses and end-organ damage. Dr. Kaplan also has an interest in identifying novel therapeutic targets that may prevent premature vascular damage in systemic autoimmunity, as well as the role of environmental triggers in the induction of autoimmunity. Moreover, she has led clinical trials to identify mechanisms that reduce blood vessel dysfunction and mitigate organ damage in autoimmune and chronic inflammatory disorders.