Brendan Lovasik and Doan Nguyen Win Poster Awards at Great Lakes Immunology Forum

December 2018

The Emory Transplant Center (ETC) and Emory transplant immunology investigators Andrew Adams, MD, PhD, and Mandy Ford, PhD, hosted the XIX Annual Great Lakes Transplantation Immunology Forum (GLTIF)—the third time the ETC has hosted the meeting—from December 3-4, 2018, at the Emory Conference Center Hotel. Brendan P. Lovasik, MD, and Doan C. Nguyen, MD, PhD, received first place poster awards at the event.

The GLTIF was inaugurated in Ann Arbor, MI, in 2000, to provide a regional meeting for principal investigators as well as promising young researchers to share and receive feedback for ongoing studies. The gathering also promotes networking among investigators and encourages collaborative links. The keynote speaker at this installment was Jeremy M. Boss, PhD, professor and chair of the Emory Department of Microbiology and Immunology, interim chair of the Emory Department of Biochemistry, and current vice president of the American Association of Immunologists. The AAI also sponsored the poster awards.

Dr. Lovasik, PGY-2 general surgery resident on research sabbatical in Dr. Adams' lab, presented a study that compared the therapeutic efficacy of either anti-CD40 or anti-CD154 costimulation blockade reagents to tacrolimus—one of the standard immunosuppressive drugs known as calcineurin inhibitors—in preventing renal xenograft rejection in pig-to-nonhuman primate (NHP) transplantation models. The study team observed that the NHP recipients treated with the blockade regimens experienced better prolonged survival than those treated with tacrolimus, providing further rationale for translation of these blockade reagents to clinical practice.

In his poster, Dr. Nguyen, instructor of medicine in the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine who is working with principal investigator and Emory pulmonary immunologist Frances Eun-Hyung Lee, MD, described the development of a novel method for characterizing the cellular origins of donor-specific antibodies (DSA), which play a significant role in initiating chronic rejection. By using this method, the study team posit that they will be able to measure the presence of DSAs post-transplant, and thereby precisely target the B cells, antibody secreting cells, and long-lived plasma cells that produce them.

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