B.A. in Biology, Reed College
Communication between stromal cells, vascular endothelial cells, and leukocytes is critical for homeostasis and disease. I am interested in how signals sent between these and other cell types govern immune responses against pathogens and autoimmune diseases. My dissertation research in Dr. Jeffrey Browning’s lab is on cutaneous lupus erythematosus (cLE) and systemic sclerosis (SSc), two autoimmune diseases that manifest inflammatory and fibrotic skin lesions. There are medications that treat some cLE and SSc symptoms. However, designing therapies that target the underlying causes of cLE and SSc symptoms requires further clarification of the etiologies of both diseases. Our working theory is that stromal cell alterations in cLE and SSc are key to the etiologies of these diseases. Altered stromal cells likely determine the course of cLE and SSc by regulating the type and extent of leukocyte infiltrates in skin lesions through communication with vascular endothelial cells. By contrasting cellular communication, phenotypes, and in situ distributions between cLE and SSc we hope to clarify the etiologies of these diseases and contribute to the development of more effective medications.