Meet our future clinicians, educators and researchers.
Runa Kuley, PhD
Pathway: Basic Science Research
Biography: Dr. Kuley obtained her PhD in infection biology from Wageningen University in the Netherlands. During her PhD she characterized the Dutch Q-fever outbreak strains of Coxiella burnetii bacteria, which led to a better understanding of the host-pathogen interactions and elucidated novel virulence mechanisms of the outbreak strains. After completion of her PhD she joined the Clark lab in June 2017 at the University of Washington in the Department of Immunology. In the Clark lab she investigated the role of B cell activating factor (BAFF) in B cell responses and autoimmunity. In September 2019 Dr. Kuley joined the Giltiay lab at the Department of Rheumatology where she continued her research on BAFF till June 2020. Her research in the Clark and Giltiay labs identified specific BAFF sources and their regulation that promote protective immunity against bacterial and viral pathogens. In addition, the work also identified the contribution of BAFF in the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases, particularly systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). In July 2020 she joined the Lood lab in the Department of Rheumatology where she is primarily exploring the clinical utility of neutrophil biomarkers in rheumatic disease, as well as the role of neutrophils in regulating B cell activation as it pertains to SLE.
Sladjana Skopelja-Gardner , PhD
Biography: Dr. Skopelja-Gardner was born in Montenegro. Having finished final two years of high school at the United World College of the Adriatic in Italy, she moved to the United States, where she obtained a B.A. in Biochemistry at Dartmouth College. After a year as a research associate in the biotech company Celdara Medical, she joined Dr. William Rigby’s lab at Dartmouth in pursuit of a PhD degree in Immunology. Her published thesis work addressed two distinct translational questions: i) the development of autoimmunity in chronic lung infection in cystic fibrosis and bronchiectasis and ii) the effector functions of monoclonal antibody therapies in B cell malignancies. Since joining the Elkon lab in July 2017, Dr. Skopelja-Gardner has been investigating the pathogenic mechanisms of skin and kidney disease in lupus. One of her studies explores the mechanisms of kidney injury in low complement states, using novel disease models developed in the Elkon lab. In a separate study, Dr. Skopelja-Gardner investigates the immunologic link between skin sensitivity to ultraviolet light and systemic disease manifestations in lupus. As part of this effort, she will be implementing state of the art single cell technology to elucidate the skin response to UV light in healthy individuals and lupus patients.
Ting Wang , MD, PhD
Biography: Dr. Wang was born and raised in Hebei, China. She attended medical school at University of Hebei in 2008. She completed her Ph.D. training in rheumatology in Peking Union Medical College and Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences. In 2016, she was awarded a fellowship by China Scholarship Council, which allowed her to pursue a one-year research project at the Division of Rheumatology at the University of Washington under the mentorship of Dr. Keith Elkon and Dr. Natalia Giltiay. Through this training, she developed interest in mechanisms underlying the development of pathogenic autoreactive B cells in autoimmune disease and decided to pursue further training in translational research in rheumatology. In 2019, she joined the Department of Rheumatology as a senior fellow to pursue post-doctoral training in Dr. Giltiay’s Lab. Her current research interest is developing effective biomarkers that are predictive of treatment response of Abatacept in RA.