Immunology studies the physiological functioning of the immune system in states of both health and disease, as well as malfunctions of the immune system in disorders of varying severity – ranging from allergies and hypersensitivities to papillomavirus, HIV and sepsis. Immunology also involves the physical, chemical and physiological characteristics of the immune system’s components in vitro, in situ and in vivo, and it is extremely useful in many disciplines of medical science.
At the Feinstein Institute, our scientists focus on understanding the basic biologic principles underlying the immune and inflammatory systems that protect us against infections and other environmental hazards, as well as internal challenges, such as cancer. This protective immune and inflammatory system includes an innate immune response to infections and other external challenges, as well as a more developed adaptive immune response that more precisely targets elements that threaten our health.
The immune system is a complex set of cells and tissues that protect us from harmful invaders, such as a cold virus or bacteria. When the immune system recognizes a foreign organism, it mounts an inflammatory reaction that destroys the invader. Sometimes, however, this system goes wrong, and the immune system mistakes our own cells as foreign and repeatedly attacks them – this is called autoimmunity. Although the precise cause of these diseases remains unclear, there is strong evidence that both a genetic predisposition and environmental factors play a role.
Feinstein Institute researchers are focusing on two major types of autoimmune diseases: arthritis and lupus. They are extensively researching risk genes for these disorders and developing novel therapies to treat them.
Feinstein Institute investigators studying immunology and autoimmune diseases include Yousef Al-Abed; Cynthia Aranow; Ona E. Bloom; Anne Davidson; Betty Diamond; Richard Alan Furie; Peter K. Gregersen; Patricio T. Huerta; Tanisha Anne Jackson; Sun Jung Kim; Annette T. Lee; Meggan Mackay; Thomas L. Rothstein; Kim R. Simpfendorfer; Myoungsun Son, PhD; Kevin J. Tracey; Haichao Wang; Ping Wang and Yon-Rui Zou.