Martin Weigert, Ph.D.

Martin Weigert, Ph.D.

Martin Weigert, PhD, is internationally recognized for determining the chain-terminating codons and for his contributions toward understanding autoimmunity and tolerance. His laboratory established two of the most important mouse models of tolerance used by more than 100 laboratories worldwide. For his co-discovery of receptor editing, a fundamental mechanism of B cell tolerance, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. He has also made important contributions to understanding mechanisms of directed DNA mutation and how these mechanisms contribute to making antibodies that cause disease.
Dr. Weigert's Lab >>

 

 



Marcus R. Clark, M.D.

Marcus R. Clark, M.D.

Dr. Clark is a physician scientist who embodies the research/clinical focus of the Knapp Center: He is a rheumatologist who sees patients, and is a noted researcher specializing in B cell biology. In the last several years, Dr. Clark has made several contributions to our understanding of how B cell develop in the bone marrow, how they are selected into the periphery and on how B and T cell responses are coordinated in both normal and autoimmune immune responses. Most recently, he has been able to apply his expertise in B cell biology to understanding how B cells contribute human lupus nephritis, the most common severe manifestation of SLE. This work should lead to a reappraisal of how we think nephritis develops and progresses in those SLE patients with severe disease. Dr. Clark is currently the Chief of Rheumatology, Co-Director of the Knapp Center and Director of the NIH-sponsored University of Chicago Autoimmunity Center of Excellence.
Dr. Clark's Lab >>


  • National Institutes of Health; R01, 2/1/2006 - 1/31/2011 “B-Cell Receptor Regulation of Antigen Processing.”
  • National Institutes of Health; R01, 8/15/2008 - 7/31/2013 “Tertiary lymphoid neogenesis in human lupus nephritis”
  • National Institutes of Health; U19, 6/10/2009 - 5/31/2014 “University of Chicago Autoimmunity Center of Excellence”
  • National Institutes of Health; R01, 9/30/2009 - 1/31/2011 “ARRA B-Cell Receptor Regulation of Antigen Processing.”

Maria-Luisa Alegre, M.D., Ph.D.

Maria-Luisa Alegre, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Alegre is a basic immunology researcher who focuses on the mechanisms that induce or maintain tolerance in T cells, as well as on the environmental signals that can prevent or break this tolerance. This interest spans the development of T cells in the thymus, the upregulation of surface molecules that terminate T cell activation, the biology of regulatory T cells that can suppress responses by effector T cells, and the consequences of bacterial infections on these specific pathways of tolerance. The biological significance of these events is tested in mouse models of autoimmunity and transplantation as well as in clinical samples obtained from transplant recipients and infected patients. Dr. Alegre was born in Madrid, Spain. She received her MD degree from the Universite Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium and her PhD in Immunology from the University of Chicago. She completed her clinical training in Internal Medicine and Intensive Care prior to focusing completely on research. Dr. Alegre was a post-doctoral scholar in the laboratory of Craig Thompson when he directed the Knapp Center for Lupus and Immunology Research. She has been principal investigator of her research laboratory at the University of Chicago, in the Section of Rheumatology since 1999. She is currently an Associate Professor.
Dr. Alegre's Lab >>


  • National Institutes of Health; R01 1/1/2008 - 12/31/2012 “Mechanisms of TLR-mediated prevention of transplantation tolerance”
  • National Institutes of Health; R01 2/1/2003 - 1/31/2015 “Role of NF-kB Activation in Acute Allograft Rejection”
  • NIH/NIAMS; R01 9/01/2010 - 4/30/2014 (Daum/Alegre)- "Epidemic CA-MRSA: Molecular Epidemiology and Immunology"
  • NIH/NIAID; P01 (7/17/2012-6/30/2017 (Chong)- "Infections and the Stability of Transplantation Tolerance"

Fotini Gounari, Ph.D.

Fotini Gounari, Ph.D.

Dr. Gounari is a research scientist who links basic research in lymphocyte development with the mission of the Knapp Center to understand the pathogenesis of human autoimmune diseases. She is an established immunologist focused on deciphering the mechanisms that control T-cell development. Dr. Gounari has made significant contributions to our understanding of the early stages of T-cell development in the thymus, including the characterization of progenitor populations that enter the thymus to become T-cells as well as the mechanisms that control their maturation inside the thymus. More recently, she became interested in determining the contribution of thymic T-cell development to the etiology of autoimmunity and inflammation. Dr. Fotini Gounari earned her Ph.D. in Genetics from the Imperial College of Science and Technology in Great Britain and trained in Molecular Biology at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Germany. She pursued her interest in understanding the immune system by studying early T-cell development at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard Medical school. In her first independent position at Tufts University Medical School, Dr. Gournari established a program of studies on basic mechanisms of T-cell development and how their dysregulation leads to autoimmunity and inflammation. These studies continued and expanded after the move of her lab to the University of Chicago in 2007.
Dr. Gounari's Lab >>


  • American Cancer Society (national) 9/1/2007 - 8/31/2011 “The Role of b-catenin Signaling in T-cell Leukemia”
  • National Institutes of Health; R2 5/1/2008 - 4/30/2010 “Wnt/b-catenin signaling in T-cell transformation”

Haochu Huang, Ph.D.

Haochu Huang, Ph.D.

Dr. Huang is interested in understanding how autoreactive T and B cells are regulated in normal immune system and what goes wrong in autoimmunity. He has been exploiting advanced transgenic and gene-targeting technology to engineer new mouse models for human rheumatoid arthritis. Major questions tackled are why tolerance fails in these models, what triggers the autoimmune processes, how genetic background affects tolerance and signaling pathways leading to tolerance. Most recently, he has been utilizing his mouse models to understand the mechanisms of rituximab. This work should provide insights on why this drug is so effective in treating certain autoimmune diseases and how it can be improved. Dr. Huang obtained his Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins University and was a Damon Runyon Postdoctoral Fellow at Joslin Diabetes Center, Harvard Medical School. He is currently Assistant Professor of Department of Medicine and Knapp Center for Lupus and Immunology Research.
Dr. Huang's Lab >>


  • NIH R21 04/01/11 – 03/31/13  Differential Signaling by B cell Receptor in Tolerance Induction
  • NIH R01 04/01/11 – 03/31/16  Thymic B cells and T cell selection
  • NIH U19 05/01/11 – 04/30/13 Identifying Pathogenic Autoantigens in Human Rheumatoid Arthritis



Patrick Wilson, Ph.D.

Patrick Wilson, Ph.D.

Dr. Wilson has recently risen to prominence in the field of B cell biology and particularly in the study of antibody specificity. Using technology that he helped to develop, his laboratory has become one of the worlds best at generating human monoclonal antibody proteins. By focussing on antibody responses Dr. Wilson has made a number of notable discoveries in recent years. In addition to further understanding how our bodies fight influenza, the protective antibodies against influenza his laboratory has generated are being developed as new therapeutics and diagnostics. Understanding the mechanisms by which these antibodies control influenza may someday allow us to generate a comprehensive influenza vaccine to finally control this important pathogen. By determining which B cells are reactive to our own tissues, Dr. Wilson's laboratory is also working to decipher how B cells that might cause lupus or other autoimmune diseases are controlled. To this end they have identified a B cell type that is shut-down, or "anergic" in healthy people because it is autoreactive. They are now trying to determine how these B cells are shut-off and if this B cell type is controlled in the same fashion in lupus patients. Dr. Wilson earned his PhD in immunology from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center under the mentorship of Dr. J. Donald Capra. He then went on to be a fellow at the Rockefeller University in the laboratory of Dr. Michel Nussenzweig. He is currently an assistant professor in the Section of Rheumatology with his laboratory in the Knapp Center.
Dr. Wilson's Lab >>


  • NIH/Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation; SC, 9/1/2009 - 8/31/2014 “Early Plasma Cells as a Source of Anthrax-Neutralizing Antibodies.
  • NIH/Emory University; SC, 4/1/2009 - 3/31/2014 “Human Monoclonal Antibodies”
  • National Institutes of Health; R1, 8/20/2008 - 7/31/2013 “The origin and consequences of receptor editing and allelic inclusion”
  • National Institutes of Health; 04/01/09 – 03/31/14 “University of Chicago Autoimmunity Center of Excellence”
  • NIH/Columbia University; SC, 03/01/2009- 2/28/2014 “Rapid cloning of high affinity human monoclonal antibodies from plasmablasts”