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, Director of the Knapp Center and Director of the NIH-sponsored University of Chicago Autoimmunity Center of Excellence.
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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 >>

 

 



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 a Professor of Medicine.
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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.
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Vladimir Liarski, M.D.

Vladimir Liarski, M.D.


I am currently an Assistant Professor in Rheumatology in the Physician Scholar Track with a strong background in Immunology who is immensely interested in human translational research as it applies to systemic lupus erythematous (SLE) and the idiopathic inflammatory myopathy (IIM) group of disorders. My main research focus is the role of inflammation and the study of its’ organization, cellular make-up, and presence of cognate versus non-cognate immune interactions by means of computerized, objective, and high-throughput techniques based on image analysis of multichannel immunofluorescently-labeled images of human tissue, acquired with confocal laser scanning microscopy. We have developed cutting edge approaches to the segmentation and analysis of in vivo cellular interactions based on Convolutional Neural Networks and Deep Learning-based approaches. Having been interested in basic and translational research since college, I have acquired a broad foundation of research techniques and have had hands-on training in key aspects of data acquisition and analysis under multiple excellent mentors. Besides the standard medical basic science curriculum, I have participated in several years of additional independent study, including the AAI Advanced Immunology Course and advanced graduate courses in Immunology and Image Analysis at the University of Chicago, the Optical Microscopy and Imaging in the Biomedical Sciences course offered at the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole, as well as the NIH Big Tap curriculum at Purdue University to further my knowledge in each respective area. In addition, I recently successfully completed a Master's Degree in Medical Bioinformatics with focuses on Image Analysis and Big Data Analytics.



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 a Professor of Medicine in the Section of Rheumatology with his laboratory in the Knapp Center.
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Mandal Malay, PhD

Mandal Malay, PhD


- The execution of an effective immune response requires appropriate control of the development and function of adaptive immune system. B and T lymphocytes are the cells that mediate adaptive immunity. B lymphocytes are the unique source of diverse self-tolerant immunoglobulin repertoires and the indispensable part of the adaptive system. In the bone marrow (BM), B cells cells develop from a common hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) whose differentiation pathway is controlled by differential activation B lineage specific genes and simultaneous repression of other non-B lineage specific gene programs. B cell progenitors progress through sequential and mutually exclusive states of proliferation, recombination, and selection. These transitions are coordinated by BM microenvironmental factors including cytokines and chemokines. Mutations affecting the crucial B cell developmental checkpoint can result in immunodeficiency, autoimmunity, and leukemia. Our laboratory has a number of scientific interests that include:1) Understanding the mechanism of Immunoglobulin gene rearrangement. ;2) How bone marrow extracellular cues coordinate with intracellular signaling during early B lymphopoiesis and the role of epigenetic mechanisms that regulate chromatin structure in the context of B cell development. 3) Genetic and epigenetic regulatory mechanisms of germinal center responses. 4) Understanding the molecular pathways of CD4 vs CD8 lineage commitment during T lymphopoiesis.