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Our lab is primarily focused on the genetics and genomics of inflammatory and autoimmune disease. Our lab is interested in characterizing the genetics underlying human disease risk using sporadic cases, extreme phenotypes, and familial disease clusters. We assess the effect of genetic variation using a combination of genetics, molecular biology, statistics, and bioinformatics. We use high-throughput technologies, such as RNA-Seq, to discover the molecular determinants of inflammatory disease risk and progression.

What do we research?

Hidradenitis suppurativa

A primary research focis of the lab hidradenitis suppurativa (HS), a chronic skin disease. The first outbreaks are usually during early adulthood, and result in the formation of multiple abscesses in apocrine gland-rich skin folds. This includes under the arms, beneath the breasts, and in the groin. The molecular etiology is not well understood despite a population prevalence of 1%. We collaborate with Drs. Peter Nagele, Milan Anadkat, and John Kirby for patient recruitment and clinical research.

We currently have a new project identifying HS biomarkers and characterize bacterial colonization of HS wounds in collaboration with Ohio State University physicians Dr. Benjamin Kaffenberger and Dr. Jessica Kaffenberger.

Juvenile dermatomyositis

Juvenile dermatomyositis is a rare disease characterized by a heliotrope facial rash and weakness in both proximal and trunk muscles. A key component of this disease is damage to microvasculature over time. We are interested in the genetic susceptibility underlying disease risk, and in identifying both disease-activity biomarkers and pathways to target for treatment methodologies. We work with the lab of Dr. Lauren Pachman to leverage their clinical resources into molecular research.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an chronic, autoimmune mediated inflammatory disorder. Many tissues throughout the body can be affected, including the skin, heart, and blood vessels. The most obvious morbidity is joint swelling and pain, and eventually the joints can experience bone erosion and deformation of the joints. We are collaborating with Dr. Deborah Parks and Dr. Christine Pham at Wash U, and Dr. Wael Jarjour at OSU to study regulatory RNA in joint inflammation.

Systemic sclerosis

Systemic sclerosis, also known as scleroderma, is a progressive disease that manifests with autoimmune, fibrotic, and vascular features. There is a large degree of heterogeneity among patients with regard to how the disease will progress over time. Patient survival has improved over time, but this disease remains amongst the worst diagnoses in rheumatology. We want help improve the outcome of these patients by 1) defining underlying genetic risk factors for the disease, 2) identifying ways to stratify heterogeneous patient groups into more homogeneous molecular pathologies, and 3) create molecular surrogates for skin scores to measure disease activity over time. This work is possible due to a strong collaboration with the Northwestern University Scleroderma program, and in particular the effort of Dr. John Varga, to collect the many clinical samples necessary for this research.


If you are a student that wants to rotate in the lab, please contact Eli directly.

We have no salary funded staff positions open at this time.


We use statistics and bioinformatics techniques in our research. For statistical analysis we primarily rely on R, and for scripting and programming we tend to use python and C++. You can locate code that we have found useful on the lab GitHub site.