An Overview of theCenter for Clinical Immunology at Stanford University
The Center for Clinical Immunology at Stanford (CCIS) unites investigators from throughout the world of medicine and within the University at large bringing discoveries in basic science to bear on the most difficult illnesses known to mankind. These are the diseases which disable our immune system's ability to defend us.
Treating Autoimmune Diseases
While the new Center for Clinical Immunology at Stanford (CCIS) covers a vast range of diseases, the Center's current areas of focus are type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and psoriasis.
Bone Marrow Transplantation
The Division of Bone Marrow Transplantation (BMT) at Stanford consists of several interconnected components: its research laboratory, which is part of CCIS; the clinical BMT laboratory; and the in-patient and out-patient care facilities at the Medical Center. Novel experimental concepts are continually being developed in the research laboratory, explored in the clinical laboratory, and tested in trials in the in-patient and out-patient clinics.
Solid Organ Transplantation
The initial problems in organ transplantation were technical and largely associated with the surgery, itself. Now that most of those problems have been overcome, CCIS physician-scientists in fields ranging from microbiology to surgery are pursuing the greater challenge or as they put it, "the holy grail" - manageable transplantation tolerance in humans.
The steady improvement in transplantation survival rates seen each year of late is due in large part to greater experience with immunosuppression, to a better understanding of the immune response on a molecular level, and to the development of additional immumosuppressive agents such as tacrolimus, monoclonal antibodies and sirolimus. Further advances in understanding and implementing immune tolerance strategies should improve graft survival of all transplantable organs.
CCIS physician-scientists, under the leadership of surgeon Oscar Salvatierra, M.D., transplantation biologist Sam Strober MD., and others, feel confident that immune tolerance in human recipients of organ transplants will one day be possible without continued immunosuppression.
EDUCATION & TRAINING - Fundraising Priorities
Because the Center for Clinical Immunology is a new concept, there is a strong emphasis on education and training at CCIS. Currently, CCIS leaders are spearheading three separate initiatives to provide increased funding for young researchers. Funding for education and research support is essential to help young investigators through the early years of their careers.
Many friends have already come forward with support, but increased philanthropic participation is crucial to the advancement of translational medicine in diseases involving the immune system.
1. CCIS Summer Intern Program
Five years ago, under the aegis of CCIS, a fund was launched by a local family to create a summer internship program for Bay Area high school students interested in biology. The eight-week program enabled up to 10 students to take part in research, attend introductory lectures by selected faculty, and gain some exposure to clinical medicine. Along with an incomparable experience in the realm of medical science, each student received a modest stipend.
Additional support from other interested parties will be necessary to extend this very successful program into the future.
2. CCIS Faculty Clinical Scholars
Most federal grants go to laboratory-based researchers with established programs. As a result, it is difficult to find research funding for young physician-scientists who are also trying to teach students and care for patients. At Stanford, young faculty members in immunology may receive support from the Fund for CCIS Faculty Clinical Scholars.
The Fund, launched two years ago by several local families, provides partial salary relief for up to three years to support the work of young investigators interested in bringing technological advances in immunology to the patient's beside.
The Fund is currently supporting the work of the following CCIS researchers: Janice Brown, M.D., a specialist in Bone Marrow Transplantation (BMT); Mark Genovese, M.D., Immunology & Rheumatology; Keith Goldstein, M.D., BMT; and Minnie Sarwal, M.D., Pediatrics.
Further funding is needed to guarantee this program's success for the foreseeable future.
3. "Introduction to Medicine" - for BioX Ph.D.s
The newest funding initiative in CCIS is a course designed to familiarize Ph.D. students in fields such as Immunology, Bioengineering and Bioinformatics with the approaches physicians use to understand human disease. Greater familiarity with medicine will help these scientists understand the diseases they are attempting to cure.
The course was conceived shortly after the announcement last spring of a gift from donor Jim Clark to build the "BioX" facility at Stanford - a center that will bring together professors and students from many disciplines to maximize the use of new technologies in the search for solutions to the world's most challenging diseases. Jane Parnes, M.D., Immunology & Rheumatology, and Betsy Mellins, M.D., Pediatrics, are developing the course focusing on multi-system disorders such as type I and type II diabetes mellitus.
Funding is needed to develop teaching materials for the course and to provide salary support for the instructors.