Dr. Shervin Assassi
The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
McGovern Medical School
Department of Internal Medicine - Rheumatology
My research focuses on elucidating the pathogenesis and determinant of disease severity/treatment response in systemic sclerosis. Systemic sclerosis is a multisystem, autoimmune disease which leads to extensive fibrosis of skin and internal organs. Systemic sclerosis is associated with high disease burden and mortality. There are no FDA approved medications for this potentially devastating disease. My lab works with dermal fibrosis murine models, as well as primary human samples including dermal fibroblasts and peripheral blood cells to elucidate the molecular basis of systemic sclerosis. We have a special interest in the role of interferon activation in fibrotic diseases. Moreover, we have generated large-scale global gene expression and proteomic data in well-phenotyped biospecimens derived from longitudinal systemic sclerosis cohorts. This enables us to link the molecular data to important clinical outcomes, which builds the basis for our special interest in development and validation of prognostic/predictive biomarkers. Our ultimate goal is to identify novel therapeutic targets and to develop clinically useful predictive biomarkers for individualized treatment options in this multifaceted rheumatic disease. We provide hands-on experience in in-vitro experiments with primary human dermal fibroblasts and skin samples. Moreover, there are opportunities for analyzing high through-put molecular data and examining their relationship with various clinical outcomes in systemic sclerosis.