Our lab is interested in dissecting the molecular etiology of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases using genetics and genomics. Many treatments for these diseases involve broadly suppressing the immune system rather than targeting disease-specific molecular pathways. Identifying the molecular drivers of an individual disease empowers the discovery of quantitative biomarkers of disease activity and the potential for more targeted treatments with fewer side effects.
We are particularly interested in inflammatory and autoimmune diseases with a skin phenotype since skin biopsies are a low-risk source of informative tissue. We’re currently studying hidradenitis suppurativa, dermatomyositis, systemic sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. We work with clinicians with disease-specific clinics within WUSTL and at other universities to recruit patient cohorts.
We combine the discovery of rare genetic variants associated with disease risk using DNA sequencing with genomics techniques (such as RNA-Seq) and cell culture modeling. This diverse set of approaches means that the lab uses bench molecular biology and bioinformatics to fill these knowledge gaps. The broad range of potential projects and training focuses make the lab a unique training environment.