Dr. Qizhi Tang, PhD heads a research group within the Transplantation Research Lab, of which she is the Director. The Tang Lab focuses on the investigation of the immune system's exquisite and intricate mechanisms of self-control and their exciting potential for treating or preventing autoimmune disease and rejection of transplanted organs.
Prior research indicates that the immune system's innate self-control is largely carried out by a small population of white blood cells called regulatory T cells (Tregs). Infusion of Tregs to autoimmune-prone mice prevents disease development. Similarly, pretreatment of transplant recipients with Tregs prolongs graft survival. We utilize the mouse model as well as clinical data to visualize and understand the properties of Tregs in order to help us to design better treatments for autoimmunity and transplant rejection by harnessing the body's own powerful tools of immunosuppression.
Researchers in the Tang Lab are particularly interested in developing treatments for type 1 diabetes, a chronic autoimmune disease for which islet transplantation is a promising minimally invasive therapy. We are looking at the immune response to transplanted islets and the effect of immunosuppressive drugs on long-term graft function.
The findings from these studies will shed light on how Tregs prevent autoimmunity and transplant rejection, and thereby allow us to devise improved therapies that can be translated to the clinical setting.