MD, State University of New York, 1964
PhD, University of Pennsylvania, 1951
MA, University of Pennsylvania, 1949
AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE—a major health problem
Autoimmunity is a major cause of human disease. In the United States, at least 15 to 22 million people suffer from an autoimmune disease. About two thirds of them are women. In its modern context, the concept of autoimmunity as a cause of disease was introduced in 1956 by Rose and Witebsky when they discovered that the human disease chronic (Hashimoto’s) thyroiditis could be reproduced in experimental animals by immunization with thyroglobulin, a major protein constituent of the thyroid gland. We now know that upwards of 80 human diseases affecting almost every organ in the body are related to autoimmunity. The primary goal of our laboratory has been to understand the etiology and pathology of autoimmune disease by studying both human patients and experimental animals. From our own studies and those of others we have learned that autoimmune diseases are caused by the interaction of genetic traits and environmental factors. Currently we are investigating inflammatory diseases of the heart muscle and myocarditis.
Cardiac Myosin-Induced Autoimmune Myocarditis
Myocarditis and its sequela, dilated cardiomyopathy, are a major cause of heart failure in young adults. In humans, these diseases usually follow a viral infection. Cardiac myosin is believed to be a major autoantigen in both human and murine virus-induced myocarditis. In our laboratory, we induce autoimmune myocarditis in genetically predisposed BALB/c mice by immunization with cardiac myosin peptide. Following the cardiac myosin immunization, mice develop cardiac lesions which, in addition to other infiltrating cells, are composed of abundant eosinophils and scattered giant cells, producing a picture similar to fulminant human myocarditis. At present, we are investigating the role of these cells as well as the role of antibodies and cytokines, IFN-gamma and IL-17 in particular, in regulating the disease process.
Honors and Awards
Elected Fellows, American Academy of Microbiology 1990, College of American Pathologists 1900, 1990 Doctor "Honoris Causa" in Medicine and Surgery from the University of Calgari, Italy 1992 Doctor "Honoris Causa" in Biological Science, University of Sassari, Italy 1992 Honorary life-time Member of the Ernest Witebsky Center Committee, State University of New York at Buffalo 1993 Abbot Award, The American Society for Microbiology ASM 1994 Distinguished Medical Alumnus Award, Medical Alumni Association, University at Buffalo School of Medicine 1997 Universidad Central de Venezuela Honorary Medal, Instituto de Inmunologia, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Central de Venezuela, Caracas, Venezuela 1994 Awarded Honorary Membership in the Oesterreichische Gesellschaft für Allergologie und Immunologie 1999 Elected Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Sciences 1999 Elected Honorary Member, American Society for Microbiology 2003 ASM Professional Recognition Award 2004 AESKU Lifetime Achievement Award 2005 ASM Founders Medal, 2009 Copernicus Medal, 2006 Lifetime Achievement Award, Keystone Conference, Foreign Member, Polish Academy of Science.