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Department of Internal Medicine

Department of Internal Medicine

UC Davis Immunology Lab - Our Goals

The Immunology lab at UC Davis is a multi-disciplinic group involving scientists from the United States, Japan, China, Germany, Italy, and includes intermittent guests from other countries.

The main areas of investigation include:

  • Autoimmune diseases with particular attention to primary biliary cirrhosis and rheumatological diseases (M. Eric Gershwin's group)
  • Food allergies (S. Teuber's group)
  • Other problems related to clinical immunology

Autoimmune diseases and clinical immunology

The team is led by Drs. M. Eric Gershwin, Judy Van de Water, Patrick Leung, Xiasong He, Zhe-Xiong Lian and Carlo Selmi. Our laboratory organizers and leaders of the administration are Nikki Phipps and Kathy Wisdom.

The major goal of this group is to find a cure for primary biliary cirrhosis.

In order to achieve our goals, we have a number of collaborators throughout the world.

Our studies on PBC include:

  1. We are searching for patients with PBC that have a twin (Twin study). We are interested in such twins whether they both have PBC or not and whether they are identical or not. We have received help and have identified twins throughout the world, but need to identify further pairs. If you know of anybody who is a patient with PBC and has a twin, please contact us at
  2. We are trying to identify families in whom two sisters or a brother/sister both have PBC (Family Study). We have found large numbers of such families throughout the world but would really like to find other such families. If you or someone you know has a sister or brother and both have PBC, please contact us at:
  3. We are studying the possibility that primary biliary cirrhosis is caused by a chemical exposure. In particular, we are currently screening several hundreds compounds that share the potential to 'imitate' compounds normally found in the body thus producing an autoimmune response.
  4. We are studying the possibility that primary biliary cirrhosis is caused by a bacterium. In particular, we are currently interested in Novosphingobium aromaticivorans as potentially able to trigger AMA production and PBC onset.
  5. We are trying to develop an animal model for PBC, that is a mouse or guinea pig manifesting all the signs of the human disease. Producing such a model would provide a tremendous tool to further study PBC mechanisms and future therapies for the disease.
  6. We have recently completed an epidemiologic study in which we identified common factors found in 1032 patients and 1041 controls who have PBC. Other institutions that collaborated with us include: Albert Einstein Medical Center, Jefferson Medical Center, California Pacific Medical Center, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (UCLA), Columbia University, Mayo Clinic, Mount Sinai Medical Center, New England Medical Center (Tufts University), Ochsner Clinic (New Orleans), Stanford University Medical Center, University of California, San Francisco, University of Medicine and Dentistry, New Jersey, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, University of Nebraska, University of Vermont, Virginia Commonwealth University, University of Washington Medical Center, Northwestern University, Beth Israel Medical Center, New York
  7. Ultimately, we are trying to find novel ways to interrupt the effector mechanisms in PBC. In other words, whether we know anything at all about what causes PBC, we would like to stop it. Studies which identify effector mechanisms include the following papers: 1993 — 1996 — 1997 — 1998 — 1999 — 2000 — 2001 — 2002 — 2003— 2004 — 2005.
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Food allergies

Dr. Suzanne Teuber's laboratory focuses primarily on

  • tree nut allergies including cross reactivity with nuts and seeds
  • development of food allergies as a result of polyphenolic compounds
  • alternative treatments (ginkgo biloba) for patients with allergic asthma

The research group also continues to identify and characterize new tree nut allergens. Finally, the Teuber lab is always interested in recruiting food allergic individuals.