Division of Rheumatology & Clinical Immunology
Director, Basic Rheumatology Research
University of Pittsburgh
Department of Immunology
The main focus of the Gaffen lab centers around the cytokine Interleukin-17. T cell derived cytokines are critical for mediating host defense against infectious disease, but they also mediate disease pathology in autoimmunity. A subset of CD4+ T cells, known as “Th17 cells” based on production of IL-17, plays a key role in driving autoimmunity. Conversely, IL-17 plays important roles in fungal immunity particularly in protection against opportunistic infections caused by the commensal yeast Candida albicans. The Gaffen lab studies mechanisms of signal transduction mediated by IL-17, as well as its role in mediating host defense against fungi. IL-17 and its receptor are unique in structure and sequence from other known cytokines, and the Gaffen lab has been a leader in studying signaling pathways mediated by this this novel family of cytokines. In addition, antibodies against IL-17 and its receptor are in clinical trials to treat various autoimmune conditions. Studies in Dr. Gaffen’s lab also focus on the consequences of anti-IL-17 therapy with respect to infection.