2019 Gina M. Finzi Memorial Student Fellow
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Study Title: The Pathogenic Role of T Cells in Neuropsychiatric Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
Mentor: Chaim Putterman, MD, Chief and Program Director, Division of Rheumatology, Professor of Medicine and Microbiology & Immunology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine
About the Researcher
Moore is a fourth year MSTP student at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. She graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in May 2014, with a Bachelors of Science and Arts in Biology and Music Performance. Following Carnegie Mellon, Erica was an IRTA post-baccalaureate fellow in Dr. Mariana Kaplan’s lab in the Systemic Autoimmunity Branch in the National Institutes of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal, and Skin Diseases. Erica is expanding her lupus research career as she studies the pathogenesis of neuropsychiatric lupus with Dr. Putterman’s guidance.
How will your Lupus Foundation of America Grant help advance your research career?
“My long term plans included completing my MD/PhD training, which first begins with completing my doctoral research in Dr. Putterman’s laboratory. With the intention of becoming a trained rheumatologist, my career goals involve seeing and caring for persons with lupus as well as starting my own laboratory that addresses the interplay between the innate and adaptive immune system in lupus.”
Summary from Moore’s Research Proposal
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease involving dysfunctional immune cells that lead to an attack on the body’s own organs. Approximately 20-40% of lupus patients suffer from neurological and/or psychiatric disorders, including depression, anxiety, and cognitive dysfunction. The mechanisms underlying neurological problems in SLE are complex, however, and incompletely understood. While it has been shown that brain infiltrating immune cells correlate with the presentation of these symptoms, the role of the T cell immune population in neurological disease has not been studied. In a lupus prone mouse model, we found that the T cells which are found in the brain in lupus belong to a particular subset known as T follicular helper cells. We propose that these infiltrating T cells contribute to neurological disease by helping to form autoantibodies as well as locally trigger inflammation in the brain. Our goal is to demonstrate that such T cells will accelerate disease, both the onset and severity of symptoms, in a lupus prone mouse model. Through these studies, we will generate evidence that T cells are involved in the development of neurological SLE disease and may present a target for future therapeutics.
For more information on Lupus Foundation on America’s granted research, please contact Ashley Marion at [email protected]