Rheumatology Research

The Rheumatology Division has an active basic and clinical research program in the field of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) headed by Dr. George Tsokos. The laboratory, which consists of over 6,000 square feet of bench space, is located in the Clinical Life Science Building.

The Lupus Center of Excellence supports basic and translational studies in SLE and provides clinical care to patients across multiple disciplines such as rheumatology, nephrology and dermatology. 

Investigations are supported by highly competitive grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, and additional funding from foundations and pharmaceutical companies. Present funding exceeds 3.0 million dollars annually.

Research activities within the Division include:

  • The Human Lupus Laboratory studies immune cell signaling and gene transcription events in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus. The studies have revealed molecules that can be targeted therapeutically and others that can serve as disease biomarkers.
  • The Animal Lupus Laboratory studies the expression of lupus in animal models which are used to perform preclinical therapeutic studies.
  • The Tissue Injury Laboratory conducts studies to determine mechanisms of tissue injury and in particular the involvement of complement and other components of the immune system.
  • Clinical Trials Unit: The Rheumatology Division at the BIDMC has an active Clinical Trials program conducting both investigator-initiated and sponsored studies. We are currently conducting clinical trials on Systemic Lupus Erythematosus and Still’s disease. Michele Finnell, NP, is the Associate Director of the Clinical Trials Unit.
  • Scientific Lectures: The Division sponsors the Lupus Lecture Series to promote interactions between basic and clinical investigators in the surrounding institutions, and a Symposium on Autoimmunity, which features pre-eminent lupus researchers as invited speakers.
  • Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies (FOCIS) Centers of Excellence (FCE). As a designated FCE, the division: Promotes interdisciplinary clinical immunology at BIDMC; Develops clinical research activities that cross established disciplines; Established training and scientific forums that encourage collaborative activities among BIDMC faculty and other FCE faculty; Promotes attendance of FOCIS annual meetings and other sponsored educational activities by faculty and trainees.