Frances Santiago-Schwarz, PhD

Investigator, The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research

Professor, Molecular Medicine, Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine

Phone: (516) 562-2901

About the Investigator

Dr. Santiago-Schwarz is an investigator at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research and Professor of Molecular Medicine at Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine. She was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico and attended the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) where she was first introduced to, and connected with, the field of immunology. After obtaining a BS in biology from the UPR, she pursued a MS in Biology/Immunology from New York University (NYU) while working under the mentorship of Dr. Joel Buxbaum, Chief of Rheumatology at NYU. From there, Dr. Santiago-Schwarz went on to pursue doctoral studies at the University of Southern California, School of Medicine, under the guidance of Drs. Jeffrey Frelinger and Richard O’Brien. Her thesis work described for the first time, isolating and functionally characterizing human dendritic cells (DCs) from peripheral blood. Subsequent work related to further understanding of DC biology in humans included the initial delineation of cytokine-driven human DC hematopoiesis from cord blood progenitors, deciphering key molecular events related to the positive and negative control of DC development and function, the first description of a leukemic counterpart of myeloid DCs.

At the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, Dr. Frances Santiago-Schwarz’ research continues to be concerned with control of monocyte and DC development in normal and abnormal physiology and developing new therapeutic agents for autoimmune diseases.

Throughout her career, Dr. Santiago-Schwarz has also been actively engaged in the direct training of biomedical research/physician scientists at distinct levels of training and enhancing educational experiences for underrepresented groups in STEM.

Research Focus

Current work includes disrupted cytokine and inhibitory immunoreceptor networks (LAIR-1, CD33) affecting monocyte/DC activity, particularly in rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus. A key collaboration with Drs. Betty Diamond and Myoungsun Son stems from our discovery that C1q interactions with the inhibitory receptor LAIR-1 control dendritic cell activation, differentiation and function. Examples of ongoing and developing projects include: deciphering the biology of inhibitory immunoreceptor CD33 (Siglec-3) and CD305 (LAIR-1) within the monocyte and dendritic cell lineages; understanding how autophagy regulates monocyte and dendritic cell development; and developing strategies employing extracellular vesicles for the treatment of autoimmune disease.


University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico
Degree: BS
Field of Study: Biology

New York University, NY, NY
Degree: MS
Field of Study: Biology/Immunology

University of Southern California, LA, CA
Degree: PhD
Field of Study: Molecular Biology & Immunology

New York University, NY, NY
Degree: Post-PhD
Field of Study: Molecular Biology

State University of New York, Stony Brook, NY
Degree: Post-PhD
Field of Study: Immunology

Awards and Honors

1997 Runner up Dolph Adams Award for most highly cited original research article (1997)
2005 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Research (2005)
2008 Farmingdale State College Foundation award for Excellence in Teaching
2008, 2014 Mentoring Awards from College Science Technology Enhancing Program (C-STEP)
2011 CARES-“Commendation and Recognition for Exceptional Service” Award
2014 Mentoring award from Advancing Women in Science and Medicine (AWSM)
2015 Mentoring award from Advancing Women in Science and Medicine (AWSM)

  1. Carla Martin, Mel Pilar Espaillat, Frances Santiago-Schwarz. “IL-10 restricts dendritic cell (DC) growth at the monocyte-to-monocyte-derived DC interface by disrupting anti-apoptotic and cytoprotective autophagic molecular machinery.” Immunologic Research.  2015. Dec: 63 (131-143). PMID:26395023
  2. Myoungsun Son, Betty Diamond, Frances Santiago-Schwarz. “Fundamental role of C1q in autoimmunity and inflammation. Immunologic Research.” 2015.  Dec: 63(1-3):101-6. PMID: 26410546
  3. Son, M., *Santiago-Schwarz, F., Al-Abed, Y., *B Diamond. “C1q limits dendritic cell differentiation and activation by engaging LAIR-1.” PNAS. 2012. vol. 109; 18643–18644; E3160–E3167 *Contributed equally PMCID: PMC3503216
  4. Kinga K. Hosszu, Frances Santiago-Schwarz, Ellinor I.B. Peerschke and Berhane Ghebrehiwet. “Evidence that a C1q/C1qR system regulates monocyte-derived dendritic cell differentiation at the interface of innate and acquired immunity.”  Innate Immunity. 2010; 16(2):115-27.PMCID: PMC2846191
  5. Carla A. Martin, Danielle Kurkowski, Alisa M. Valentino, Frances Santiago-Schwarz. “Increased intracellular, cell surface and secreted inducible heat shock protein 70 (iHSP70) responses are triggered during the monocyte to dendritic cell (DC) transition by cytokines independently of heat stress and infection and may positively regulate DC growth.”  J Immunology. 2009, 183, 388-399. PMCID: PMC3154752

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