The research goal of Cornelia M. Weyand, M.D., Ph.D., is to better understand the genetic, molecular and cellular mechanisms of how the immune system causes inflammatory disease. Much of Dr. Weyand's work is focused on inflammation in the vascular system and on the autoimmune disease rheumatoid arthritis. Her research team is searching for the molecular, cellular and subcellular processes that underlie healthy immunity as well as deviation into inflammation that can injure tissues.
Dr. Weyand's studies of immune cell function and behavior are aimed at developing new treatments for inflammatory disorders.
Dr. Weyand's laboratory uses state-of-the-art approaches to investigate how immune cells turn into proinflammatory and disease-inducing effector cells. Her team's technical resources include:
- RNA sequencing on the cellular and the tissue levels
- In vitro and in vivo imaging
- Gain-of-function and loss-of-function studies using pharmacological and genetic manipulation
- Multi-omic quantification of genes, proteins, nucleic acids and metabolites in inflamed tissues
Dr. Weyand's lab is defining druggable immune abnormalities that cause detrimental inflammatory disease, with special focus on:
- Immunometabolism in rheumatoid arthritis. One team in Dr. Weyand's lab investigates how mitochondria, lysosomes and the endoplasmic reticulum regulate metabolic fluxes that feed inflammatory cells.
- Genomic instability in rheumatoid arthritis. A second team investigates the DNA repair machinery in the nucleus, in the mitochondria and at the telomere to link genomic instability to cellular misbehavior.
- Immune checkpoints in vasculitis. A third group investigates how T cells, macrophages, dendritic cells and stromal cells lose tolerance to induce and sustain inflammation of the aorta and the large arteries.
- Malfunctioning immunity in cardiovascular disease. A fourth team investigates the molecular and cellular components of innate and adaptive immune responses in hypertension and coronary artery disease.
- Development and use of an immune avatar. Dr. Weyand's lab has developed a technique to graft human tissues — such as joint tissue and blood vessels — into a genetically modified murine model that lacks its own immune system and accepts the human tissues without rejection. The research team can use the immune avatar to rebuild a patient's immune system, monitor inflammation and test whether a particular immune intervention successfully suppresses inflammation — all outside of the patient's body. Multi-omic analysis of the human tissue explanted from the immune avatar provides a platform to define specific disease pathways and actionable targets in the patient.
Significance to patient care
Dr. Weyand's goal is to define autoimmune and autoinflammatory disease on genetic, molecular and cellular levels to develop safer therapeutic approaches for immunomodulatory treatments. Specifically, she wants to be able to reeducate and redirect patients' immune systems without rendering patients immunocompromised and susceptible to infection and cancer.
- Chair, Atherosclerosis and Vascular Inflammation Study Section, National Institutes of Health, 2021-present
- Director, Center for Translational Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, 2019-2021
- Professor of medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, 2010-2021
- Honorary Carnegie Centenary Professor, The Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland, University of Glasgow, 2016-2019
- Chief, Division of Immunology and Rheumatology, Stanford University School of Medicine, 2013-2019
- Notable Woman in Science and Medicine, Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association, Berlin, 2016
- David C. Lowance, M.D., Professor of Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, 2004-2009
- Director, Kathleen B. and Mason I. Lowance Center for Rheumatology and Human Immunology, Emory University School of Medicine, 2004-2009
- Director, Clinical Immunology and Immunotherapeutics Program, Mayo Clinic, 2001-2003
- Barbara Woodward Lips Professor of Medicine and Immunology, Mayo Clinic School of Medicine and Science, 2000-2003
- Professor of Medicine and Immunology, Mayo Clinic School of Medicine and Science, 1999-2003