The broad and long-term objectives of the Systemic Autoimmunity Branch are to further the understanding of the pathophysiology and clinical spectrum of systemic autoimmune diseases and to translate this knowledge into better therapies that improve outcomes for patients with these conditions. A major goal of the branch is to combine natural history or treatment studies with basic investigations into the etiology and/or pathophysiology of rheumatic diseases, including systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Additionally, the branch works to train the next generation of scientists and physician-scientists focused on the understanding of the pathogenesis and advancement in the treatments of patients afflicted by systemic autoimmune diseases.
Our research focuses on unraveling fundamental mechanisms underlying immunologic tolerance and understanding innate and adaptive immune pathways crucial to these autoimmune responses in SLE and other autoimmune diseases.
As treatments to suppress aberrant immune responses improve, patients with systemic autoimmunity are able to survive for longer periods of time. As a result, the prevalence of end-stage complications, including the development of accelerated atherosclerosis and myocardial infarction, has increased. We are interested in identifying the immune pathways that promote premature vascular damage in systemic autoimmunity to identify potential preventive strategies.
Current areas of interest
- The role of neutrophils and neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) in the induction of loss of immunologic tolerance and acceleration of organ and vascular damage in autoimmune diseases.
- How type I Interferons (IFNs) contribute to the development of premature atherogenesis and vasculopathy in SLE and other connective tissue diseases.
- Alterations of immunometabolism in autoimmunity.
- The identification of novel biomarkers and therapeutic targets to mitigate cardiovascular damage and induce immunomodulation in SLE and other systemic rheumatic diseases.
Our lab is always seeking to recruit the best talent in the scientific community. If you are interested in joining our team, please contact us.
Former Lab Members
Postdoctoral Students and Scholars
- Hege Lynum Pedersen, Ph.D., 2018-2019 (Research Scientist, UiT The Artic University of Norway, Tromso, Norway)
- Jose Jiram Torres-Ruiz, M.D., 2018 (Ph.D. student, UNAM, Mexico City)
- Liam O’Neill, M.D., 2017-2019 (Rheumatologist and Clinician-Scientist, University of Manitoba, Canada)
- Yaima Lightfoot, Ph.D., 2015-2017 (Research Scientist, MD Anderson Cancer Center)
- Yudong Liu, M.D., Ph.D., 2015-2018 (Attending Physician, Peking University, China)
- Pragnesh Mistry, Ph.D., 2015-2018 (Technology Transfer and Patent Specialist, NHLBI, NIH)
- John Reynolds, MRCP, Ph.D., 2014 (Clinical Senior Lecturer in Rheumatology, University of Birmingham, UK)
- Ana Barrera, M.D., 2014-2016 (Attending Physician, Hospital ABC, Mexico City)
- Donavon Sandoval-Heglund, B.S., 2019-2020
- Xinghao Wang, B.S., 2018-2021 (M.D., Ph.D. student, University of Michigan)
- Rishi Goel, Sc.M., since 2018 (M.D. student, University of Pennsylvania)
- Phillip Carlucci, B.S., 2016-2018 (M.D. student, NYU)
- Diana Chan, B.S., 2016-2018 (D.D.S. student, University of Washington)
- Nickie Seto, B.S., 2015-2018
- Erica Moore, B.S., 2014-2016 (M.D., Ph.D. student, Albert Einstein College of Medicine)
- Jorge Irizarry Caro, 2014-2016 (Internal Medicine Resident, UT Houston)
- Monica Purmalek, B.A., 2014-2016 (Resident in Obstetrics and Gynecology, USUHS)
- Kathleen Bashant, Ph.D., Cambridge/NIH partnership, 2016-2020 (Research Scientist, Vow, Sydney, Australia)
- Carolyne Smith, Ph.D., University of Michigan GPP program, 2010-2015 (Scientist, SQZ Biotechnologies)
- Kathleen Vazzana, M.D., 2019-2021 (Practicing Pediatric Rheumatology at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children)
Image & Media Gallery
Viral infections such as COVID-19 may lead to flare-ups in people with systemic autoimmune diseases (SAD). These infections may also change the function of their immune system and/or cause problems with their blood vessels. Researchers want to learn how people with SAD respond to treatments or vaccines for COVID-19. The objective of this study is to understand how COVID-19 affects inflammation, the immune system, and blood vessels in adults and children with autoimmune diseases.
This study will examine families in which one sibling of a sibling pair, or twin pair, has developed a systemic rheumatic disease and one has not, to see if and how the two differ in: blood cell metabolism, types of cells in the blood, or environmental exposures or genetic factors that might explain why one developed disease and the other did not.
This protocol will evaluate patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and their relatives to learn more about how the disease develops and changes over time. It will also study genetic factors that make a person susceptible to SLE.