Summer 2015 Gina M. Finzi Fellows

Christina Austin
Research Intern, Lupus Center of Excellence
Allegheny Health Network
Mentor: Joseph Ahearn, M.D.
Eosinophil- and basophil-bound C4d as lupus biomarkers

This study will look at whether a protein (C4d) on the surface of certain blood cells can help clinicians diagnose lupus and differentiate between people with lupus, healthy individuals, and those with other autoimmune diseases. 

Melissa Bates
Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition
Michigan State University
Mentor: James J. Pestka, Ph.D.
Enhanced clearance of apoptotic cells for preventative effect of DHA in SLE

The inhalation of very small crystalline silica (a mineral) particles has been associated with increased incidence of autoimmune disease in exposed individuals. This study will look at whether dietary consumption of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid found in fish, can both prevent and resolve inflammation in lupus.

Michael Brown
Data Analyst, Arthritis & Clinical Immunology Research Program
Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation
Mentor: Courtney G. Montgomery, Ph.D.
Development of a patient-based tool which predicts SLE classification

This study will use medical and questionnaire data from over 3,500 lupus patients enrolled in a large lupus repository to construct a diagnostic tool to not only predict the presence of lupus but also specific organ dysfunction, such as in the kidneys, in a shorter amount of time than current tools.

Jennie Ann Hamilton
Ph.D. Student, Immunology Program
Graduate Biomedical Sciences
The University of Alabama at Birmingham
Mentor: John D. Mountz, M.D., Ph.D.
Induction of apoptotic cell reactive B cells by type I IFN in BXD2 mice

The breakdown of cells and release of the materials inside these cells is thought to be an important trigger in the development of lupus. This study will look at whether the breakdown of cells and the immune response to it contributes to lupus.

Jillian Jaycox
Undergraduate Research Assistant, Department of Immunology
University of Pittsburgh
Mentor: Mark Shlomchik, M.D., Ph.D.
Elucidating the Mechanism of B Cell Depletion Resistance in Lupus

Researchers have been actively investigating therapies that target B cells as possible treatments for lupus. Jaycox will study the mechanism of a specific drug that targets these cells in order to improve treatment and identify biomarkers that will help doctors understand who would benefit from these lupus treatments.

Christina Poa
Medical Student
New York University School of Medicine
Mentor: Jill P. Buyon, M.D.
Plasma Mediators and Lupus Risk in Mothers of Children with Neonatal Lupus

This study aims to identify risk factors in the blood that can help to predict the development of lupus in women who have had a child with neonatal lupus. A previous study has shown that over time, many of these mothers do develop lupus. Identification of such risk factors may help doctors understand who would benefit from therapies that prevent the symptoms of lupus.