Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Penn Institute for Immunology

Program Leaders


Autoimmunity

Edward Behrens, M.D.

Edward Behrens, M.D.
Joseph Hollander Associate Professor in Pediatric Rheumatology

The Behrens Laboratory is mainly focused on the understanding the pathogenesis of Cytokine Storm Syndrome, a common pathologic endpoint of a heterogeneous group of initiating diseases.  There are a number of specific current projects that are active in the lab. The following is a list of some representative long-term projects:
1) The role of IL-33/ST2 in Familial Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis (FHL)
2) The role of Interferon gamma (IFNg) in FHL
3) The role of the microbiome in cytokine storm
4) The role of Heme-oxygenase 1 (HO1) in cytokine storm
5) Hematopoiesis during inflammation


Terri Laufer, M.D.

Terri Laufer, M.D.
Associate Professor of Medicine

Major histocomatibility complex (MHC) class II molecules are required for the normal development in the thymus of CD4+ T cells and function to present peptide antigens to those CD4 cells in the periphery. Our current studies are directed toward understanding the peptide specificity, function, and pathologic potential of these autoreactive T cells:
1) Examination of a series of K14-derived autoreactive T hybridomas demonstrates that the autoreactive population of CD4 cells is polyclonal; however, we are beginning to identify the individual peptides responsible for stimulating the autoreactive response.
2) Development of autoimmunity: Adoptive transfer systems are being utilized to tease apart the T cell and target-organ abnormalities that must be present to initiate an autoimmune disease.
3) Requirement for MHC class II in other antigen presenting populations.



Cancer Immunology

Warren Pear, MD, PhD

Warren Pear, MD, PhD
Gaylord P. and Mary Louise Harnwell Professor

A major area of interest of this laboratory is understanding the processes that lead to the development and differentiation of mature hematopoietic cells from a single hematopoietic stem cell. We are particularly interested in studying the processes that perturb these normal processes and cause leukemia. In addition, we are developing and testing ways to block Notch signaling that may be useful in treating leukemia and other Notch-dependent diseases.



Infectious Diseases & Host Defense

Michael R. Betts, Ph.D.

Michael R. Betts, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Microbiology

My laboratory studies human T lymphocyte function in order to understand the role of these cells in controlling or eliminating viral pathogens and providing protection from infection. Our primary interest is in determining how and if the human CD8+ T cell response to HIV controls viral replication. The current direction within the lab is to determine the underlying mechanisms that control the cell fate and functional characteristics of HIV-specific T and B cells in the context of HIV infection and disease progression.



Inflammation

De'Broski R. Herbert, Ph.D.

De'Broski R. Herbert, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Pathobiology, University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine

Through the study of parasitic helminths and protozoa, my group has made important contributions towards understanding mechanisms controlling development of alternatively activated macrophages and Type 2 inflammation within the respiratory and gastrointestinal tract.



Transplantation

Jason Christie, M.D.

Jason Christie, M.D.
Chief, Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Division and Robert M. Kotloff/Nancy Blumenthal Professor for Advanced Lung Disease

Dr. Christie's career is focused on translational research studies of the risks, pathogenesis, treatment, and outcomes of acute lung injury in the transplant and non-transplant human populations. His research integrates new knowledge generated from bench studies with epidemiology approaches in well-phenotyped, large human populations to generate new definitions of human syndromes, improved diagnostics and prognostics, and targeted therapy approaches in advanced lung diseases and critical illness.


Andrew Wells, Ph.D.

Andrew Wells, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

My laboratory studies how T lymphocyte activation, differentiation, and tolerance are regulated by components of the cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) cascade like CDK2 and p27KIP1, and by transcription factors like FOXP3 and IKAROS in cooperation with epigenetic factors like DNMT3A. We have over 15 years of experience in cellular immunology, cell biology, and molecular biology research, including mouse models, in vivo and in vitro lymphocyte function, biochemistry, transcriptional biology and epigenetics. More recently, we have incorporated ‘next generation’ approaches like ATAC-seq, ChIP-seq and methyl-DIP-seq to study transcription factor binding, chromatin remodeling, and DNA methylation genome-wide, and three-dimensional chromosome conformation capture (3C)-based techniques like 4C-seq and Capture C to study long-range interactions between enhancers and promoters.