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Joan M. Goverman, Ph.D.
Joan M. Goverman, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair, Immunology
Dr. Goverman received a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Brandeis University. She received a Ph.D. in Biological Chemistry from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1981. A postdoctoral fellowship at UCLA was followed by additional training at the California Institute of Technology. A member of the Department of Molecular Biotechnology when it was founded at the University of Washington in 1992, Dr. Goverman joined the Department of Immunology in 1994.
Department of Immunology
The Goverman Lab's research focuses on furthering our understanding of the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis and identifying potential points of therapeutic intervention. Our primary area of interest is delineating mechanisms that lead to the development of multiple sclerosis. Multiple sclerosis is believed to be an autoimmune disease in which self-reactive T cells that recognize myelin proteins escape normal mechanisms of immune tolerance and become activated, causing inflammation and destruction of myelin in the central nervous system (CNS). Our work employs animal models of this disease in order to investigate immune system function within the central nervous system that is not accessible for study in humans.
We study the mechanisms that normally maintain immune tolerance to myelin proteins, triggers that break this tolerance, the characteristics of T cells that mediate the disease and the effector mechanisms that ultimately cause tissue damage. We have developed a number of new animal models using T cell receptor transgenic mice that express either CD4+ or CD8+ T cell receptors specific for different myelin proteins. These models recapitulate different aspects of the complex pathology seen in MS patients, and have allowed us to discover novel mechanisms of maintaining tolerance. Using these tools, we are investigating the contribution of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells and B cells to autoimmunity in the CNS. We are also defining the parameters that govern T cell trafficking in the CNS, the effector mechanisms that propagate disease and how inflammatory responses are regulated in different microenvironments in the CNS.
1. J. Goverman. Autoimmune T cell responses in the central nervous system. 2009, Nature Rev. Immunol.,9:393-407.
2. Ji, Q., Perchellet, A. and J. Goverman. Viral infection triggers central nervous system autoimmunity via activation of dual TCR-expressing CD8+ T cells. 2010, Nature Immunology Jul;11(7):628-34.
3. Goverman, JM. 2011. Immune tolerance in multiple sclerosis. Imm Rev. 241(1):228-40.
4. Pierson, E and J. Goverman. B cells influence central nervous system autoimmunity via preferential expansion of Th1 cells. Manuscript in preparation.
B.A., Chemistry, Brandeis University
Ph.D., Biological Chemistry, University of California, Los Angeles