Lab Focus

Our overarching objective is to elucidate the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying autoimmune and rheumatic diseases, and to leverage these insights to develop next-generation diagnostics and therapeutics.

Our laboratory is pursuing two major lines of research:

  1. Autoimmunity, with a focus on rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and multiple sclerosis (MS). Autoimmune diseases affect 3-5% of the world population, yet the pathogenesis of most autoimmune diseases remains unclear. Moreover, current therapies globally modulate immune function, resulting in potentially severe side effects, and are not curative, serving only to slow disease progression.

    •  Defining the role of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) in the initiation and progression of MS, SLE and other autoimmune conditions.

    •  Defining the role of mucosal breaks of bacteria in the initiation and progression of RA, ANCA vasculitis and other autoimmune conditions.

    •  Investigating the role of B cells in autoimmune disease.

  2. Osteoarthritis (OA). Our second line of research is the investigation of OA, the most common form of arthritis. Unlike RA, OA is not an autoimmune disorder and has been widely believed to result from ‘wear and tear’. However, findings from our laboratory and others are revealing a key role for innate immune inflammation in the pathogenesis of OA.

    • Defining the innate immune mechanisms that mediate OA.

Figure. Robinson Lab’s translational research program in autoimmune and rheumatic diseases. We employ a multifaceted experimental approach.  We perform proteomic and transcriptomic analyses of patient samples to gain insights into the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying disease pathogenesis. The roll of the identified cellular and molecular mechanisms is then investigated in mouse models, and the mechanisms involved are further defined in in vitro assays. Mouse models are also used to test the efficacy of novel therapies.   A major objective is to leverage our insights into the mechanisms underlying disease to develop next-generation diagnostics and therapeutics.