Autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), are commonly described as “complex” diseases; but, what does “complex” mean?
To a patient battling an autoimmune disease, “complex” often means years of undiagnosed and progressive symptoms, multiple physicians, and several invasive diagnostics tests. Once diagnosed, it also means a lifelong battle against vicious cycles of remission and disease flare, and a regimen of intensive immunosuppressive therapies.
To a scientist, “complex” refers to the thousands of genetic variations that collectively modify how the immune system responds to environmental triggers, causing chronic inflammation and loss of self-tolerance.
Our research team uses state-of-the-art high-throughput sequencing technologies coupled with bioinformatics and functional analyses to unravel the complex relationships between the genetic and environmental factors that influence autoimmune disease. Developing a systems-level understanding of these complex relationships will improve early diagnosis and intervention strategies with the ultimate goal to prolong remission and better suppress autoimmune disease flare so that patients battling these diseases can lead healthier lives.