Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Autoimmune Disease Research Center


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   About the Center

Hopkins The Center's Origin. The idea to create a Center to foster study of the autoimmune diseases arose at a day-long meeting of Johns Hopkins investigators in June 1999. At this gathering of about forty faculty members, representing some dozen departments of the Schools of Medicine and of Public Health, it became clear that some continuing mechanism to exchange collaboration among the faculty members interested in autoimmune diseases was required. Even at this first meeting, faculty members working along parallel pathways on different diseases in different medical specialties found that their work would be promoted by such collaboration. Historically, research on autoimmune diseases has gone on in different departments, because these diseases (there are at least eighty of them) can affect any organ in the body. The clinical manifestations are determined by the site of autoimmune attack. Therefore, faculty in many clinical departments are engaged in studies of autoimmune disease. Equally important, the immune response involves many biological processes on the molecular and cellular level. Basic scientists studying fundamental questions of immune disorders are located in different basic science departments of The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. The concept of a Center is to bring together the existing faculty in many departments to improve and foster communication and collaboration.
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Noel R. Rose, M.D.,Ph.D. The Center Director. The first Director of the Johns Hopkins Autoimmune Disease Research Center is Noel R. Rose, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Rose is a Professor in the Department of Pathology (School of Medicine) and in the W. Henry Feinstone Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology (Bloomberg School of Public Health), with joint appointments in the Departments of Medicine and of Environmental Health Sciences.

His pioneering studies on autoimmune thyroiditis in the 1950s helped to initiate the modern era of research on autoimmune disease. He and his colleagues have continued to contribute to our understanding of autoimmunity, including the first demonstration of the genetic factors responsible for predisposition to autoimmune disease in animals and more recent investigations on the influence of infection and environmental agents in the initiation of autoimmune disease in genetically predisposed animals.

He is co-author of the textbook "The Autoimmune Diseases", now in its fourth edition. This was the first book to consider the autoimmune diseases collectively and to focus attention on the fundamental principles that underlie all of the autoimmune disorders.
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The Center's Purpose. The Johns Hopkins Autoimmune Disease Research Center offers leadership in the study and development of improved diagnosis, treatment and prevention of autoimmune diseases. Physicians and scientists interested in autoimmune diseases are located in nearly every department of the Schools of Medicine and Public Health.

  1. Basic scientists are engaged in fundamental research on the immune response study the causes of its dysregulation and the reasons why they lead to disease.

  2. Clinicians are searching for methods to improve the diagnosis and treatment of one or more of the autoimmune diseases.

  3. Epidemiologists and geneticists are seeking out the environmental factors or the genetic traits that increase the risk of developing an autoimmune disease.

The Center creates the opportunity for all of these Johns Hopkins investigators to come together in advancing the battle against autoimmune diseases through research, education and better communication, resulting, eventually, in improved clinical care.

Research The Center promotes individual and collaborative research on the initiation and development of autoimmunity and the pathogenesis of the autoimmune diseases. It fosters the sharing of specialized instruments and technologies, as well as precious samples from autoimmune disease patients. A special interest of the Center is the implementation of a postdoctoral training program, providing an opportunity for young investigators to engage in fundamental or applied research on autoimmunity at an early, formative stage of their careers.
Communication The Center has established regular channels of communication among investigators and clinicians throughout Johns Hopkins that are interested in different aspects of autoimmunity and autoimmune disease. Communication vehicles include seminars, workshops, and colloquia focused on current research. Such activities began in June 1999 with the First Johns Hopkins Autoimmunity Day. Now an annual event, Autoimmunity Day brings to the Hopkins Campus distinguished international experts to join Hopkins investigators in exploring the frontiers of research in autoimmune disease. During the academic year, the Center also sponsors seminar speakers to familiarize our faculty and students with relevant research being conducted at other institutions. From time to time the Center in conjunction with the American Autoimmune Related Disease Association organizes international ADRC colloquia on interspecialty and interdisciplinary topics that cut across the broad field of autoimmune disease.
Education "Within Johns Hopkins, the Center enhances education about the autoimmune diseases among medical students, graduate students, residents and postdoctoral fellows, while encouraging the inclusion of, and greater attention to, the autoimmune diseases in the medical curriculum. The Center arranges training opportunities for fellows wishing to emphasize research on the autoimmune disease in their career development. One goal of the Center is to assist in recruiting and supporting junior faculty interested in autoimmunity aimed at sparking fresh insights into the pathogenesis of autoimmune disease, seeking novel treatments, and developing strategies to prevent these diseases among those at risk. Another goal is to serve as a clearinghouse for reliable information about autoimmune diseases to the wider professional and lay public, fostering collaboration with the American Autoimmune-Related Disease Association (AARDA), and the World Health Organization to disseminate accurate, up-to-date information. The Center is also an official Collaborating Center of the Pan American Health Organization and the World Health Organization. The Center works actively with these international organizations to bring young physicians and scientists to Baltimore in order to promote their training and enhance their knowledge of the autoimmune diseases."
Improved
Outcomes
The Center benefits the care of patients with autoimmune diseases. Improved communication and strengthened relationships among the clinical disciplines ultimately leads to better outcomes. By encouraging the expansion of investigational programs and promoting new ones, the Center helps to advance our understanding of complex clinical problems. As a component of the Department of Pathology, the Center provides laboratory resources for clinical investigations of patients with autoimmune disease. Through the W. Harry Feinstone Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, the Center encourages epidemiological studies in the School of Public Health designed to elucidate the prevalence and distribution of the autoimmune diseases, and to identify risk factors. Clinical trials and outcomes research will lead to better treatments.
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Why Johns Hopkins? Johns Hopkins has led the nation in developing new approaches to medical education, research, and patient care, and many of its faculty are committed to studying autoimmune diseases.

Hopkins has a long tradition of interdepartmental collaboration upon which to build the multidisciplinary Autoimmune Disease Research Center group. A World Health Organization Collaborating Center for the Autoimmune Diseases, established at the School of Public Health in 1971, synergizes with the Johns Hopkins Autoimmune Disease Research Center.

The Center is a multidivisional entity jointly sponsored by the W. Harry Feinstone Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, School of Public Health, and the Department of Pathology, School of Medicine, where much basic and clinical research on autoimmune disease is conducted. Core Center faculty – those committed to research, education, or patient care in the autoimmune diseases – will be drawn principally from these two schools, but also from the Schools of Nursing, Arts and Sciences and Engineering.

  


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