Research Expertise & Professional Interests
My interests focus on understanding how the immune system interacts with stromal elements to form the specialized structures that orchestrate immunological encounters in lymphoid organs. On a different plane, the barriers to effective quantitation of disease are formidable in some autoimmune diseases especially those with considerable unmet need such as lupus and scleroderma. I am interested in bringing new views onto the human immune system to improve clinical studies.
Mesenchymal cell differentiation pathways are intimately interwoven with pathological processes e.g. compromised vascular integrity, aberrant tissue remodeling and fibrosis and tumor-stromal interactions. In lymphoid organs, the lymphotoxin pathway, a TNF family member, is one mechanism by which both innate and adaptive lymphoid cells communicate with their stromal microenvironments. The maintenance of a differentiated follicular dendritic cell network to scaffold the B cell follicle is a well-studied example of this communication. More recently, it is clear that another network, the fibroblastoid reticular cell network, is a differentiated form of mural cells, e.g. pericytes or vascular smooth muscle cells. The precise role of the lymphotoxin pathway in controlling this structure is an area of investigation. As lymph nodes can undergo massive expansion in response to danger following by involution, they form an intriguing model of physiological tissue remodeling. Using this foundation, we have been studying the stromal underpinnings of the perivascular adventitial compartment. this compartment is considered crucial to harbor stem cells, tissue resident leucocytes and sense and initiate repair/remodelling efforts after injury. Human skin has provided an excellent tool to observe these stromal perivascular networks.