We propose to create an Autoimmunity Center of Excellence that will incorporate the efforts of clinicians, human immunologists (both basic and translational), physician-scientists with clinical expertise and research experience in autoimmunity, bioinformaticians, and geriomics/systems biologists. Together, the assembled group has an extensive background in clinical trials and a proven track record for merging basic and clinical science. This team is committed to bringing innovative treatments from the laboratory bench to their patients' bedside. Within this collaborative setting, a systems biology approach is proposed to focus on both pediatric and adult autoimmune diseases. The goals of the Center are: 1) To assess the efficacy of novel targeted therapies, 2) To develop simple and robust biomarkers using state-of-the-art genomic approaches, 3) To understand the role of recently identified T cell subsets in disease pathogenesis, and 4) To assess antigen-specific responses in pediatric and adult autoimmune diseases. These projects will provide a better understanding of the pathogenesis of specific autoimmune diseases and allow us to develop a strategy to assess disease activity based on novel transcriptional markers as well as to identify autoantigen-specific immune responses. The Center will deliver: 1) Innovative clinical trials targeting specific cytokines in psoriasis & dermatomyositis. 2) Development of biomarkers for dermatomyositis, psoriasis, lupus and multiple sclerosis. 3) Identification of novel therapeutic targets in dermatomyositis. 4) Development of assays to test autoantigen-specific immune responses. 5) Development of a unique microarray database of human autoimmune diseases.

Public Health Relevance

The Center will utilize the strong interactions in place at Baylor between clinicians and research scientists. It offers all necessary infrastructure to collect clinical samples and develop state-of-the-art technological and analytical tools that will benefit each of the projects. There is a significant institutional commitment to advance autoimmune research and bring relief to patients with these diseases.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Research Program--Cooperative Agreements (U19)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZAI1-QV-I)
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Baylor Research Institute
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