Over the past three decades, his work has focused on the underlying principles of autoimmunity, biomarkers, and therapy for autoimmune diseases.
In the 1980s, Dr. Nepom played a major role in outlining the immunogenetics (the relationship between the immune system and genetics) of autoimmune disease.
He concentrated mostly on identifying the structure
and function of key cells. Later, his lab focused on the structure/function actions in order to discover what these genes do and how to control the T cell response.
This work led Dr. Nepom to think about ways to modify and manipulate the T cell response. Currently, Dr. Nepom runs the Immune Tolerance Network, a collaborative network for clinical research funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a part of the National Institutes of Health.
To this end, Dr. Nepom is looking at the ability of lymphocytes to sense their environment. “They run around the body and look for dangers, damage, and infectious challenges. They also communicate in their environment what they have figured out,” explains Dr. Nepom. “The crux of my work has sought to understand the signals that T cells sense, what they do with that information … and how they communicate that information to the neighboring cells — whether there is a real threat or a false alarm.”
But Dr. Nepom’s work doesn’t stop there. He has already had success in modulating the T cell response in other autoimmune diseases. Now, he is investigating that option for lupus.
Speaking about his Co-Chair, Dr. Mary (Peggy) Crow, Dr. Nepom said, “Peggy is a real pro, and the two
of us cover the bases quite well. She has unrivaled experience in direct patient care, which complements my research and clinical trial experience.”
Dr. Nepom will play a crucial role in helping the Lupus Research Alliance navigate the constantly evolving landscape of lupus research.
“In reviewing the proposals of grant candidates, Jerry’s knowledge will help us avoid duplication, false starts, and blind alleys,” said Kenneth M. Farber, Co-President of the Lupus Research Alliance. “Having someone on board with such vast experience will greatly help our organization speed the process of discovery.”