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Inflammation and Innate Immunity

The Section of Rheumatology’s research laboratories explore the role of innate immunity and inflammatory pathways in initiating and perpetuating autoimmunity in different rheumatologic diseases, with a goal of identifying pathologic mechanisms and better therapies. Investigations of disease models in the laboratory and of human subjects are pursued; these encompass molecular profiling and genetic studies, and novel therapeutic interventions. Our experimental approaches integrate across laboratories to take advantage of Department strengths in immune profiling, bioinformatics, core instrumentation (see more here and here) and human clinical investigation.

Ongoing programs include:

Lyme disease

Ixodes tick-transmitted infection with the Lyme disease spirochete can result in acute and chronic arthritis with features similar to other forms of noninfectious inflammatory arthritidies. The molecular pathogenesis of Lyme disease and its associated arthritis are major areas of study, and encompass tick-host interactions, mouse models of disease, and human clinical investigation. State-of-the-art genomic, proteomic and imaging approaches are employed to better understand spirochete evasion of host defenses and to develop new diagnostics for Lyme disease. Emerging tick-borne infections of particular risk to rheumatic disease patients on immunosuppressive agents, including those caused by the red blood cell parasite Babesia microti and a newly recognized relapsing fever spirochete Borrelia miyamotoi, are also major areas of interests.