BIDMC FOCIS Center of Excellence

FOCIS Center of Excellence 


George C. Tsokos, MD
Dr. Tsokos' Harvard Catalyst profile

Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies (FOCIS)
Centers of Excellence

Mission Statement

The BIDMC FOCIS Center of Excellence aims to promote interdisciplinary clinical immunology at BIDMC. Develop clinical research activities that cross established disciplines; establish training and scientific forums that encourage collaborative activities among BIDMC faculty and other FCE faculty; promote attendance of FOCIS annual meeting and other sponsored activities by faculty and trainees.

Governance System and Infrastructure

Director: George C. Tsokos; Deputy Director: Mark Exley. In collaboration with the executive council, the director is responsible or all FCE activities; serves as liaison with FOCIS FCE Committee and Chair; instigates new initiatives; encourages faculty interaction through regular meetings; promotes collaborative activities between faculty members and faculty of other FCE; promotes attendance of FOCIS meetings by trainees and faculty.

Executive Council: Ann Nicholson-Weller, Terry Strom, Cox Terhorst. The executive council reviews all proposed activity and guides the director on every action.

External Advisory Council: Jorg Goronzy, Jane Salmon, Carl June, Andy Saxon. The External Advisory Council advises the Director on an ad hoc basis on plans and activities. The director seeks help from the Council on how to establish and expand on inter-FCE activities including collaborative Clinical Immunology research projects, inter-institutional clinical trials and educational activities.

Lay Person Advisory Council: President of the MA Lupus Foundation, Betsy Languin

Research and Personnel

Faculty current research activities:

Nadia Alatrakchi

  • Regulatory and effector T cell immunity in hepatitis C / HIV infections

M. Simo Arredouani

  • Dendritic cell vaccine-based therapy for prostate cancer

David Avigan

  • Dendritic cells
  • Cancer therapy
  • Clinical trials

Steven Balk 

  • NKT cell adoptive therapy for the Induction of anti-tumor immunity

Christopher Carman

  • Mechanisms for the trans-cellular route of leukocyte extravasation
  • Analysis of integrin conformational changes and distribution dynamics during activation and leukocyte trans-endothelial migration via novel fluorescence-based techniques
  • Analysis of Conformational Changes during Integrin Activation by Novel Fluorescence-based Techniques.

Mark Exley

  • Potential of Dendritic Cells (DC) and NKT Cells for the Induction of anti-Tumor Immunity;
  • Innate-like hepatic "NKT" cells in liver disease due to HCV infection

Joyce Fingeroth

  • EBV-regulation of the immune response
  • Complement receptor 2, biology, physiology, biochemistry and structural biology

Yuang-Taung Juang

  • Molecular abnormalities underlying defective IL-2 production in SLE T cells.

Jean-Pierre Kinet

  • Role of mast cells in orchestrating inflammation
  • FcepsilonRI regulation, function and inhibition
  • Novel molecules in the regulation of calcium flux in immune cells

Maria Koulmanda

  • Strategies for tolerance induction in non-human primates for allogeneic islet transplants
  • New strategies for tolerance induction in non-human primates for allogeneic islet transplants

Margaret Koziel

  • Immune response against hepatitis C

Corrine Lenahan

  • Dendritic cell loading technology for cancer vaccine therapy
  • Immunotherapeutic Approaches for Ovarian Cancer

Ann Nicholson-Weller

  • CR1 (CD35) As a Cellular Receptor for C1q 
  • Neutrophil ecto-Calreticulin: Implications for Immunity

Keith Reimann

  • Engineering and expression of recombinant antibodies
  • Antibody-based therapies 
  • Nonhuman primate models of infectious diseases and transplantation

Martin Sanda

  • Prostate cancer immunotherapy 
  • Mechanisms of tolerance to prostate tumor antigens 
  • Prostate cancer biomarkers

Detlef Schuppan

  • Development of mouse models for celiac disease
  • Innate Immunity in celiac disease
  • Characterization and inhibition of the intestinal epithelial gluten receptor
  • Hepatitis C: Inflammation and fibrogenesis 
  • Development of serum markers of liver fibrosis progression using proteomics 
  • Molecular Imaging of fibrogenesis (with John Frangioni) 
  • Antifibrotic mechanisms and therapies in liver fibrosis

Terry Strom

  • T reg cells in governing the allograft response 
  • Immunomodulatory functions and mechanisms of B7 blockade in pediatric renal transplant recipients 
  • Mechanisms of novel tolerance strategies to create tolerance to cardiac allografts 
  • Establishment of transplant tolerance in human islet transplant recipients

Cox Terhorst

  • SLAM Gene Family controlled pathways to SLE 
  • Cell Surface Receptors on T Cells and Macrophages 
  • Pathways to Inflammatory Bowel Disease 
  • The Role of SAP in X-linked Lympho-Proliferative disease (XLP)
  • Treg cells in Factor IX gene therapy.

George C. Tsokos

  • Aberrant immune cell signaling in SLE 
  • Aberrant gene transcription in SLE 
  • Development of biomarkers in human SLE
  • Mechanisms of tissue injury

Ninghai Wang

  • Control of Tolerance to Nuclear Antigens by the EAT-2A/B Genes

Peter Weller

  • Human Eosinophils: Mechanisms of Functioning
  • The Hypereosinophilic Syndromes and Mepolizumab
  • Airways Eosinophils as Antigen-Presenting Cells in Asthma
Clinical Innovation and Patient Registry
  • The Division of Rheumatology has established a Lupus Center with an active Lupus clinic staffed by 4 Lupus experts. A Lupus clinical Research Unit has been established.
  • The Division of Immunology will soon start analyzing polymorphisms of the human SLAM-family genes in SLE patients and healthy siblings.
  • The Division of Allergy is conducting clinical studies in allergy.
  • The Division of Transplantation Immunology in collaboration with various divisions has an active transplantation program.
  • The Division of Oncology has an active Vaccine Development program.

Established activities include:

  • Monthly lupus lecture series - Senior established researchers in the field of systemic autoimmunity are invited to speak.
  • Annual Lupus Symposium- the first took place on the 7th of September 2007 - its goal is to serve as a linking node for all lupus-interested basic and clinical researchers at Harvard Medical School and other Boston Institutions.
  • George Tsokos is the Chair of the Clinical Immunology Society-sponsored School on systemic autoimmune diseases funded through an R13 (NIAMS) and industry.
  • Cox Terhorst, together with Raif Geha, Luigi Notarangelo and Fred Alt, teaches a Harvard Immunology course on genetic diseases of the immune system: "The Primary Immunodeficiencies"
  • An Inflammatory Bowel Disease Research meeting between BIDMC and MGH is held monthly, organized by Cox Terhorst and Daniel Podolsky (MGH).
Community Outreach and Advocacy

The Division of Rheumatology has an active patient education program in collaboration with the MA Lupus Society and Arthritis Foundation.