This issue of Leap, although autoimmunity is on the cover, is actually about the many points of connection here in the Division of Rheumatology. First, of course, is our connection to our patients. It’s not just physicians, nurses, and staff. It’s also our scientists, working to discover how these diseases start and how they might be stopped.
Our cover story is on the remarkable discovery that autoimmunity in some patients with scleroderma begins when the body successfully fights off cancer. This landmark research, published in Science, has the potential to revolutionize how we think about both autoimmunity and cancer.
In other exciting research we see how, for the first time, certain immune system components called IFI-16 proteins respond to pathogens: They form structures that orchestrate the attack against foreign invaders. Jungsan Sohn, a basic scientist in Biophysics, is studying these proteins in the laboratory; meanwhile, Livia Casciola-Rosen and Brendan Antiochos are studying them in the tissue of patients with Sjögren’s syndrome. These scientists have teamed up, and their work may lead to new ways to treat Sjögren’s and other autoimmune diseases.
We understand that really exciting discovery comes from points of connection, as people with different ways of thinking and expertise approach problems from different angles. Investing the funds provided by our donors to encourage collaboration at these points of connection is producing exceptional results.
This issue also features another way that we want to connect with you: our Story Project. A while back, I asked our faculty and staff to answer a question about their background, their experiences, and an object that is meaningful to them and helps crystallize why they are here. I thought their responses were amazing, and many of you wrote to tell me that you did, too.
We are making great progress in our understanding of autoimmune diseases, and we have great hope for the future. We are proud to share that with you, our partners in discovery and hope.
Antony Rosen, M.D.
Director, Division of Rheumatology
Vice Dean for Research