Robinson Lab In The Department of Medicine

Lab Interests

Our laboratory is pursuing two major lines of research:

  1. Autoimmunity, with a focus on rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and multiple sclerosis (MS). Autoimmune diseases affect 3-5% of the world population, yet the pathogenesis of most autoimmune diseases is unclear. Moreover, current therapies globally modulate immune function, resulting in potentially severe side effects, and are not curative, serving only to slow disease progression..
    • A major objective of our research is to understand the mechanisms underpinning the initiation, natural remission, and progression of autoimmune diseases, and to develop targeted therapeutics that treat these diseases without incurring serious adverse side effects.
    • Another important goal is to develop biomarker assays that can guide therapeutic decision-making in clinical practice. Effective treatment of RA, SLE and MS has been impeded by the heterogeneity of the diseases—by identifying molecular ‘signatures’ of disease subtypes, we hope to ultimately develop clinical tests that enable therapy to be tailored to the individual patient.
  2. Osteoarthritis (OA). The second line of research is the study of OA, the most common form of arthritis. Unlike RA, OA is not an autoimmune disorder and is generally believed to result from ‘wear and tear’. However, inflammation is emerging as an important component of OA, prompting a reassessment of our understanding of OA pathology. Recent observations have raised a slew of intriguing questions about the role of inflammation in OA and suggested new possibilities for therapeutic intervention.

    • We are working to elucidate the pathogenesis of and develop therapies for OA, a disorder for which there is currently no treatment other than pain alleviation.



 

Figure. Bench-to-bedside and bedside-to-bench research. We employ a multifaceted experimental approach. We perform proteomic, lipidomic, and genomic analyses of patient samples to identify (i) molecules potentially involved in disease pathogenesis, and (ii) biomarker profiles that can be used to predict disease outcome and response to therapy. The role of molecules identified by ‘-omic’ technologies is then investigated in mouse models, and the molecular mechanisms involved are elucidated in biochemical in vitro assays. Multiple mouse models are also used to test the efficacy of novel therapies. Finally, we collaborate with geneticists and bioinformaticians to identify genetic factors that predispose to disease susceptibility or severity, an undertaking that provides further leads for follow-up in our mouse models. Thus, we perform both bench-to-bedside and bedside-to-bench research.

Footer Links: