We support a robust laboratory research program.
The Division of Immunology and Rheumatology supports a robust laboratory research program working to understand the underlying causes of autoimmune and rheumatic diseases.
Our research includes investigation of the roles of antibodies, B cells, T cells, and innate immunity in the initiation and progression of autoimmune diseases.
Translating discoveries in basic research into novel therapies and biomarkers.
The Fathman lab focuses on the mechanisms of immune tolerance and autoimmunity. A recent major finding was the identification of a gene, DEAF-1, which is involved in non-thymic mechanisms regulating peripheral tolerance in type I diabetes. The lab is using gene expression studies of peripheral blood cells from type one diabetes patients to identify gene expression signatures of risk of disease and of disease. The lab is developing a novel therapeutic approach based on targeting the endogenous regulatory T cell to "turn up" their activity to prevent or treat autoimmune diseases.
The Lanz lab focuses on B cell biology in neuroimmunological diseases and rheumatic diseases with neurological manifestations. He uses high-throughput screening technologies, and methods from structural and cell biology to identify new autoantigens and to understand how certain self-reactive B cells escape tolerance mechanisms. He is particularly interested in molecular mechanisms and biophysical structural basis that underlie the association between Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) and autoimmunity.
The Meffre Lab focuses on the etiology of autoimmune diseases by identifying molecules and pathways involved in the establishment of B-cell tolerance through the investigation of rare patients with known gene defects. Their ultimate goal is to restore B-cell tolerance impaired in most patients with autoimmune diseases including RA, SLE, type I diabetes, scleroderma and MS, and prevent the production of autoreactive B cells through, for instance, the inhibition of PTPN22, a key molecule associated with the development of autoimmunity in humans.
The Robinson Lab pioneered antigen array and antibody repertoires sequencing methods, and is applying these methods to investigate the mechanisms underlying autoimmune and rheumatic diseases. Discoveries in the Robinson Lab are transforming our understanding of the role of microbial triggers in autoimmune disease, including the role of oral mucosal breaks in triggering rheumatoid arthritis flares and the role of Epstein-Barr virus in triggering multiple sclerosis. The Robinson Lab’s research has led to seven different therapeutic programs, including several for which human clinical trials are ongoing.
The Utz Lab focuses on the immune system of patients with immunodeficiency disorders, infections, and autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic sclerosis (scleroderma), myositis, primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), Sjögren's disease, insulin dependent diabetes (type I diabetes or IDDM), multiple sclerosis (MS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Castleman’s disease, and mixed connective tissue disease (MCTD). The Utz Lab develops bench-to-bedside technologies, which include diagnostics and therapeutics for these diseases.