Department of Medicine
750 Republican StreetBox 358060Seattle, WA 98109
We are interested in how tissue cells interact with immune cells to shape disease. Specifically, we study tissue fibroblasts. Normally, the job of fibroblasts is to maintain the non-cellular connective tissue in organs. In disease, activated local fibroblasts have several functions, including immune cell recruitment and matrix production. Our long-term research goal is to find ways to target these activated disease fibroblasts, as combining fibroblast and immune cell therapies has the potential to increase efficacy without increasing infection risk. However, targeting fibroblast is hampered by several outstanding questions, including:
Our current focus is on joint (synovial) fibroblasts. Normal synovial fibroblasts are important producers of the joint lubricants lubricin and hyaluronic acid. In rheumatoid and other autoimmune arthritis, activated fibroblasts both amplify inflammation and directly erode cartilage. However, as activated fibroblasts are not unique to rheumatoid arthritis pathology, we postulate fibroblasts also play important roles in other joint diseases, like degenerative osteoarthritis. Currently, we have two pathway-focused research projects to study fibroblast pathology in disease.
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