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Division of Rheumatology & Immunology

   Research Overview

The Division of Rheumatology and Immunology has an internationally recognized multidisciplinary research program encompassing clinical, translational, and basic research. Our clinical research program provides patients opportunities to participate in disease registries and novel clinical trials, including both early studies of new therapies and large-scale trials supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) or Industry. Our basic and translational research seeks to discover the mechanisms causing rheumatic diseases and turn those scientific observations into new and better treatments for patients. 

Inflammation and Fibrosis Research

The Medical University of South Carolina's (MUSC) Division of Rheumatology and Immunology was recently approved for the creation of theMUSC Inflammation and Fibrosis Research Center of Economic Excellencethrough the Smart State SC Centers of Economic Excellence Program. This center will build upon a strong foundation of clinical and translational research in two connective tissue diseases, scleroderma and lupus, conducted by investigators in the Division of Rheumatology and Immunology. As a part of the Smart State SC Centers of Economic Excellence Program, funds raised for the center will be matched dollar for dollar. 

To learn more about the MUSC Center for Inflammation and Fibrosis Research please visit our Inflammation and Fibrosis Research page. For more information about giving opportunities please visit our Department of Medicine Giving website.

Scleroderma and Raynaud Phenomenon

The Medical University of South Carolina Division of Rheumatology and Immunology has had an ongoing interest in both basic and clinical research into the causes, mechanisms, and potential treatments of systemic sclerosis (scleroderma) and Raynaud Phenomenon, which often accompanies systemic sclerosis. Research areas being actively pursued by the faculty include investigation of the causes of fibrosis (which causes the thickening of the skin, lungs and other organs). This research focuses on such areas as regulation of fibroblast collagen production and differentiation. Research is ongoing to understand the effects of certain proteins, such as transforming growth factor beta and caveolin-1, on collagen production. Investigations are underway to understand the intracellular signaling occurring within the fibroblasts which lead to abnormal collagen production.

Clinical research is being performed to investigate the roles of immunosuppressive drugs such as cyclophosphamide and mycophenolate mofetil in scleroderma lung fibrosis. The use of medications such as sildenafil, bosentan, and trepostinil for pulmonary hypertension in scleroderma is being pursued.


Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)

The Medical University of South Carolina Lupus Erythematosus research group (also known asM.U.S.C.L.E.) is comprised of faculty and staff with interests in clinical, translational, and basic research related to lupus. Faculty in this group are Drs. Gilkeson, Kamen, Mitchell, Oates, Ruth, Nowling, and Zhang. Our clinical research effort is divided into investigator initiated trials and industry sponsored treatment trials. Our investigator initiated trials are administered through the Clinical Trials Research Center and focus on biomarkers of lupus and lupus nephritis disease activity, the role of Vitamin D in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), genetic and environmental risk factors for lupus biomarkers of atherosclerosis in SLE, and the role of nitric oxide in SLE. Our industry sponsored trials are designed to test a variety of therapies intended to be more targeted than current therapies for the treatment of lupus. Our basic research efforts focus on the role of reactive intermediates and sphingolipids in the pathogenesis and disease damage involved in lupus, the role of complement in lupus, the role of estrogen in dendritic cell function in lupus, and genes involved in regulation of inflammatory processes in lupus

Please visit our individual faculty pages to learn about each member’s research interests. Patients interested in participating in research are invited to contact one of our study coordinators to learn more details about our research trials.

If you are interested in a clinical trial, please contact the SLE study coordinators at 1-866-859-6107.

For more information and the latest news from the MUSC Lupus group, visit M.U.S.C.L.E.

Looking for a MUSC Rheumatology research study?   Here is a current list of all of our Rheumatology studies.

Basic Research Labs

Lab of Carol Feghali-Bostwick, Ph.D.
Lab of Stanley Hoffman, Ph.D.
Lab of Tamara M. Nowling, Ph.D.
Lab of Betty Pei-tie Tsao, Ph.D.
Lab of Paula Ramos, Ph.D.
Lab of Elena V. Tourkina, Ph.D.
Lab of Xian Zhang, Ph.D.

Translational Research Labs



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