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The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research

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Betty Diamond, MD

Investigator & Head, Center for Autoimmune and Musculoskeletal Diseases,
The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research

Professor of Molecular Medicine and Medicine, Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine

Phone: (516) 562-3830
Email: bdiamond@nshs.edu

About the Investigator

Dr. Betty Diamond graduated with a BA from Harvard University and an MD from Harvard Medical School. She performed a residency in internal medicine at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center and received postdoctoral training in immunology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Dr. Diamond has headed the rheumatology divisions at Albert Einstein School of Medicine and at Columbia University Medical Center. She also directed the Medical Scientist Training Program at Albert Einstein School of Medicine for many years. She is currently head of the Center for Autoimmune and Musculoskeletal Diseases at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research and director of the PhD and MD/PhD programs at the Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine.

A former president of the American Association of Immunology, Dr. Diamond has also served on the board of directors of the American College of Rheumatology and the Scientific Council of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS).

Dr. Diamond is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and a member of the Institute of Medicine.

Research Focus

There are many diseases characterized by the presence of autoantibodies, although the contribution of the autoreactive B cells and autoantibodies to tissue injury in these diseases is often unclear.

Dr. Diamond’s laboratory studies DNA-reactive B cells in the autoimmune disease systemic lupus erythematosus. Her team is interested in the alterations within B cells that lead to the survival and activation of DNA-reactive B cells and in the alterations in other cells of the immune system that affect B cell function and can also lead to the survival and activation of DNA-reactive B cells. They are also interested in the regulation of autoreactive B cells that acquire autoreactivity by somatic mutation during a germinal center response and in determining whether the processes that govern the selection of the B cell repertoire early in B cell development are the same as those that govern selection after activation. These studies are designed to provide new strategies to protect against autoimmune disease.

Dr. Diamond’s laboratory also examines whether autoantibodies in individuals with autoimmune disease or protective antibodies in non-autoimmune individuals might frequently cause brain injury if they penetrate the blood-brain barrier. It is their hypothesis that antibodies may frequently contribute to acquired changes in cognition or behavior.

Regulation of B cell repertoire

Dr. Diamond focuses on the regulation autoreactive B cells as they mature to immunocompetence and is particularly interested in the B cell receptor signaling pathway. It is her lab’s hypothesis that B cell hyperresponsiveness to antigen during early development allows autoreactive B cell to enter the native B cell repertoire. They have evidence that antigen mediates positive selection, as well as negative selection of transitional B cells, and are interested in delineating those conditions in which positive selection predominates and those conditions in which negative selection is triumphant.

The team is investigating the regulation of B cells that respond to antigen and acquire autoreactivity. They have shown that a process termed receptor editing causes post-germinal center B cells to express a new light chain in an effort to transform an autoreactive B cell receptor into one that is not autoreactive.

Hormonal effects on B cell development and selection

Most autoimmune diseases are more common in women and there is strong evidence that estrogen contributes to this female predisposition to autoimmune disease. Dr. Diamond is studying the impact of estrogen on B cell receptor signaling and B cell maturation to a marginal zone phenotype. She is further trying to understand if estrogen alters the germinal center response, as it has been shown to regulate both RAG and AID expression.

Dendritic cell regulation of B cell function

Dr. Diamond has been studying how alterations in function of dendritic cells can determine B cell selection and maturation. These studies provide information on an important link between the innate and the adaptive immune systems and will help identify new pathways for therapeutic intervention in autoimmune disease.

Antibodies and brain function

Dr. Diamond’s lab has become very interested in a subset of anti-DNA antibodies that cross-reacts with NMDA receptors and alters function in the adult brain following a breach in the blood-brain barrier and alters fetal brain development as a consequence of in utero exposure to maternal antibodies. They have recently extended their studies of anti-brain antibodies to ask whether these might account for some cases of autism and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Lab Members

Giovanni Franchin, MD, PhD
Assistant Investigator
Research: Studies the role of leptin in the immune system. The hormone plays a
direct role in B cell function and may serve as a potential target in autoimmune
disorders including lupus.
Email: gfranchi@nshs.edu

Czeslawa Kowal, PhD
Assistant Investigator
Research: Studies how human lupus autoantibodies against NMDA receptors mediate
cognitive impairment.
Email: ckowal@nshs.edu

Dun Zhou, PhD
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Research: Studies antibodies that target the NMDA receptor.

Amit Porat, MD
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Research: Studies of innate immunity in autoimmune states-the role of HMGB1, Clq and TLR activation.
Email: aporat@nshs.edu

Joel Cohen-Solal, PhD
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Research: Studies of the influence of sex hormones in auto-immunity.
and Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Email: jcohenso@nshs.edu

Simone Mader, PhD
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Research: Studies of NMDA receptor antibodies and T cell activation in SLE.
Email: smader@nshs.edu

Sunjung Kim, PhD
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Research: Studies dendritic cell function and the impact of altered dendritic
cell function in B-cell response.
Email: sjkim@nshs.edu

Myoungsun Son, PhD
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Education: PhD in Immune biology at Molecular Life Science, Ewha Women’s
University, Seoul Korea
Research: The role of IgG or IgM anti-DNA antibodies in SLE.
Email: mson@nshs.edu

Yi Yan, PhD
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Education: PhD in Biochemistry at Graduate Center of City University of New
York, New York
Research: Modulation of the receptor editing in antigen-activated B cells.
Email: yyan@nshs.edu

Susan Malkiel, PhD
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Research: Study of sisters of patients with lupus to find early patterns of immune dysregulation that develop into disease in order to design better strategies for preventing or treating lupus.
Email: smalkiel@nshs.edu

Venkatesh Jeganathan, PhD
Research Associate
Research: Studies the effects of estrogen on B cell repertoire, and antigen-specific therapies in lupus.
Email: vjeganat@nshs.edu

Gerald Hong, PhD
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Research: I am investigating how systemic immunity regulates CNS circuit function, using molecular biology and imaging approaches, with a particular focus on signal transduction events mediated by CNS endothelial cells.
Email: ghong@nshs.edu

Lior Brimberg, PhD
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Research: My studies are contribution of maternal antibodies to autism spectrum disorder
Email: lbrimberg@nshs.edu

Tanisha Jackson, PhD
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Research: The effect of differential c-Src kinase expression in mice on early B cell receptor signaling and autoantibody production.
Email: tjackson7@nshs.edu

Maren Bauer
Research Assistant
Email: mbauer1@nshs.edu

Mei Qi
Research Assistant
Email: mqi@nshs.edu

Kimberly Dorso
Research Assistant
Email: kdorso@nshs.edu

Miry Almada-Makebish
Research Assistant
Email: malmadamak@nshs.edu

Education

Radcliffe College, Cambridge, MA
Degree: BA
1969
Field of Study: Art History, Magna Cum

Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
Degree: MD
1973
Field of Study: Medicine

Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, NY
Degree: Resident
1976
Field of Study: Medicine

Albert Einstein College of Medicine, NY
Degree: PostDoc
1979
Field of Study: Cell Biology

Awards & Honors

1979 Meller Award for Basic Science, (AECOM)
1979-1982 American Cancer Society Junior Faculty Award
1982-1987 American Heart Association Established Investigator
1985-1990 Irma T. Hirschl Career Scientist Award
1987 Leo Davidoff Society for excellence in teaching
1986 American Society for Clinical Investigation
1995 Association of American Physician
2000 Scientific Leadership Award, SLE Foundation
2001 Distinguished Investigator Award, American College of Rheumatology
2002 Arthritis Foundation, Howley Prize
2004 Klemperer Award, New York Academy of Medicine and Arthritis Foundation (New York Chapter)
2004 Recognition Award, National Association of MD-PhD Programs
2005 Klemperer Award, American College of Rheumatology
2006 Institute of Medicine
2006 Fellow, AAAS
2008 Evelyn V. Hess Research Award, Lupus Foundation of America, Inc.
2011 ACR Mentoring Award
2012 AWSM Scientific Leadership Award
2012 Lifetime Achievement Award, NY Arthritis Foundation

Publications
  1. Lee, YI., Huerta, PT., Zhang, J., Kowal, C., Bertini, E., Volpe, BT. and Diamond, B. “Maternal lupus and congenital cortical impairment Nature Med 15:91-96 (2009).” PMC2615794
  2. Jacobi, AN., Zhang, J., Aranow, C., Mackay, M and Diamond, B. “Phenotypic characterization of autoreactive B cell identifies a late checkpoint of B cell tolerance in patients with Systemic Lupus” Erythematosus PloS One 4:1-6 (2009) PMC2685013
  3. Faust, TW., Chang, EH., Kowal,, C., Berlin, R., Gazaryan, IG., Bertini, E., Zhang, J., Sanchez-Guerrero, J., Fragoso-Loyo, HE., Volpe, BT., Diamond, B., and Huerta, PT. “Neurotoxic lupus autoantibodies alter brain function through two distinct mechanisms.” PNAS 107:18569-74 PMC2972998 (2010)
  4. Venkatesh, J., Yoshifuji, H., Kawabata, D., Chinnasamy, P., Stanevsky, A., Grimaldi, C., and Diamond, B. “Antigen is required for maturation and activation of pathogenic anti-DNA antibodies and systemic inflammation. J Immunol.” 186:5304-5312 (2011) PMC 3192436
  5. Bloom O., Cheng, KF., He, M., Paptheodorou, A., Volpe, BT., Diamond, B. and Al-Abed, Y. “Generation of a novel small molecule peptidomimetic that neutralizes lupus autoantibody activity.” PNAS 108:10255-9 (2011) PMC3121823
  6. Kim, SJ., Zou, JR., Goldstein, J., Reizis, B. and Diamond, B. “Tolerance function of Blimp-1 in dendritic cells.” JEM 208:23193-2199 (2011) PMC3201204
  7. Wang, L., Zhou, D., Lee, J., Niu, H., Faust, TW., Frattini, S., Kowal, C., Huerta, PT., Volpe, VT. and Diamond B. “Female mouse fetal loss mediated by maternal autoantibody” J Exp Med 209:1083-1189 (2012)
  8. Volpe, BT. and Diamond, B. “A model for lupus brain disease.” Immunological Reviews 248:56-67 (2012)
  9. Wofsy, D., Hillson, J., Shropshire, SM and Diamond, B. “Abatacept for lupus nephritis: alternative definitions of complete response support conflicting conclusions.” Arthritis & Rheumatism (Epub ahead of press)

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