Areas of Research
Principal Investigators in this Research Area:
The Alper lab studies the genetics of complex (polygenic) disease in humans, with a focus on autoimmunity, particularly… More
The B cell receptor (BCR) is essential for survival of mature B cells and its specificity dictates the… More
Autoimmunity and Allergy
Autoimmunity is a situation in which the immune system goes awry, causing damage to one's self.
In autoimmune responses, immune cells, which are normally eliminated during their development in the thymus gland and elsewhere, recognize and attack self-molecules. Persistence of these auto-reactive cells through several mechanisms can cause pathological conditions that damage or erode tissues.
As many as five percent of Americans suffer from some form of autoimmune disease, which includes lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Graves' disease, myasthenia gravis, and insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. As many as 20 percent of Americans suffer from allergy, which is generally a less severe manifestation of an aberrant immune response.
Investigators have identified these scientific challenges for the autoimmunity concentration:
- Understanding how lymphocytes are tolerized
- Discovering what controls the interaction of immune cells with each other
- Understanding how genetic variation contributes to autoimmunity and/or allergy
Related News and Announcements
Text adapted from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund press release
During its May 2011 meeting, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Board of Directors awarded Duane Wesemann, M.D., Ph.D., research fellow in the Department of Medicine at Children's Hospital Boston,… Read Full Article »
Leaders of HMS and Children’s Hospital Boston, Jeffrey Flier and James Mandell, respectively, introduced the Nov. 17 celebration of the Fred S. Rosen Professorship in Pediatrics at HMS, the Immune Disease Institute, and Children’s. Both commented on… Read Full Article »
Some people hit retirement age and take up golf. Not Klaus Rajewsky. In 2001, when Rajewsky, a prominent molecular immunologist and expert… Read Full Article »