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Center for Immunology and Inflammatory Diseases
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Principal Investigator, Center for Immunology and Inflammatory Diseases, Massachusetts General Hospital
Associate Physician, Rheumatology Unit, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital
Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
The long-term objective of Dr. Bloch's research is to identify the putative infectious agent or agents that initiate autoimmune disease. This goal is especially difficult to attain because the first events that trigger an autoimmune disease may occur years, if not decades, before the occurrence of clinical symptoms. Recent studies show that autoantibodies may be detected many years prior to clinical manifestations of disease. Autoantibodies, and the antigens that they recognize, may provide the only clues to the events that occurred early in the course of the disease. A second objective of Dr. Bloch's research is to identify and characterize novel subcellular, macromolecular structures. Previous investigators have shown that the antigens recognized by human autoantibodies have critical roles in cellular biology. Dr. Bloch has taken advantage of autoantibodies, and recent advances in proteomics, to characterize novel structures in the cell nucleus and cytoplasm.
Dr. Bloch has used the autoimmune disease primary biliary cirrhosis as a model system. He described the spectrum and clinical significance of autoantibodies in 493 patients with this disorder. He has focused on autoantigens that are present in two specific cellular structures: the PML nuclear body and the cytoplasmic mRNA processing body.
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