My laboratory research focuses on understanding the mechanisms that contribute to the development and progression of human autoimmune diseases. We expand upon the over 20 years of pioneering genetic work done at OMRF that defined the specific genes that contribute to a patient’s risk to develop autoimmune disease, to now focusing on an understanding of how those genes work and the exact mechanisms that eventually lead to autoimmunity.
Our group is part of a very strong team that includes Dr. James and key members of her research and clinical teams. We work closely with our clinical colleagues in the OMRF Rheumatic Disease clinics (Drs. James, Merrill, Chakravarty and Arriens) and the Multiple Sclerosis Center of Excellence (Drs. Pardo and Axtell). It is imperative that we better understand the underlying causes and progression of systemic autoimmune diseases like lupus, multiple sclerosis and others, which requires unraveling vast networks of interconnected immune responses.
Our primary focus is defining, at a systems level, the pathways that influence the regulation and development of autoimmune responses. Ultimately, this information can be used either to define pathways that contribute to those phenotypes in those patients, thereby identifying the drug targets for that subgroup of patients, or it can allow physicians to better predict the disease course of a patient, tailoring treatments to the individual’s unique profile.
Our Precision Medicine and Translational Informatics work focuses on finding molecular phenotype variables and other biomarkers that can help us both classify different subsets of patients by disease subphenotypes, but also determine a patient’s personal disease response profile, which we hope will aid in 1.) determining a person’s risk of developing a disease or predicting how an individuals will respond to certain medications and 2.) to understand molecular pathways that contribute to the development or progression of the disease, and thereby identify potential new drug targets that will help treat these devastating diseases.