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April 5, 2018 | 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Category: Seminar
Location: Integrative Biosciences Center 1D
Cost: Free
Audience: Academic Staff, Alumni, Community, Current Graduate Students, Current Undergraduate Students, Faculty, Parents, Prospective Students, Staff

The Center for Urban Responses to Environmental Stressors (CURES) presents their Thursday seminar series on April 5, 2018 from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the IBio Building in Seminar Room 1D, located at 6135 Woodward Ave.  The seminar is free and open to the entire university community.

The guest speaker will be Dr. Mary Foster, Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine at Duke University Medical Center.  Dr. Foster will present "Failed Tolerance and Autoimmune Glomerulonephritis: The Role of Gene-Environment Interactions".

Dr. Foster received a Bachelors of Science (Summa Cum Laude) from Duke University and a Medical Degree from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. Dr. Foster is also a staff physician at Durham's Veterans Affairs Medical Center.  Her current research includes autoimmunity, glomerulonephritis, gene-environment interactions, immune tolerance and renal immune injury.  Some of the experiments explore the origins and regulation of the pathogenic immune responses that underlie glomerulonephritis, and are designed to: identify tolerance mechanisms that regulate nephritogenic lymphocytes with an emphasis on B cells and autoantibodies; determine the molecular basis of tolerance; identify defects in immune regulation and the contributions of genetic autoimmune predisposition; and identify environmental disease triggers.  These experiments use novel models relevant to immune nephritis in both kidney-restricted and systemic autoimmunity (Goodpasture syndrome and systemic lupus erythematosus, respectively), that are amenable to mechanistic dissection using basic immunological, molecular biological, and proteomics approaches.  An ultimate goal is to advance novel diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to improve the lives of patients.


Autoimmunity affects up to 20% of the US population, a prevalence similar to that of heart disease and cancer.  Destruction of kidneys is common and in the absence of safe, specific therapies often leads to kidney failure requiring dialysis.  Novel interventions are urgently needed, but their intelligent design requires better understanding of disease pathogenesis.  Critical to this effort is identifying the key inciting factors and mechanisms that lead to failed tolerance - a fundamental defect in autoimmunity.  Compelling evidence implicates environmental triggers superimposed on genetic susceptibility.  We explore mechanisms of B cell tolerance and its failure in anti-glomerular basement membrane glomerulonephritis and systemic lupus erythematosus, prototypic autoimmune diseases with prominent humoral immunity that is linked to exposure to inhaled toxins and crstalline silica, respectively.  For this purpose we exploit novel autoantibody transgenic and humanized immune system models.  Results suggest that environmental factors can promote a breach in central tolerance, directly engage autoreactive lymphocytes, and induce de novo pulmonary lymphoid structures to alter autoimmune regulation.

For more information about this event, please contact Christina Cowen at 313-577-6590 or