ACGME Fellowship Program - Research Preceptors


Dr. Marcus Clark

Our laboratory has a long-standing interest in B cell antigen receptor (BCR) signaling and BCR dependent processes regulate specific cell fate decisions. In the bone marrow, we have been working to understand how signals initiated through the BCR, in conjunction with those delivered through the IL-7 receptor, coordinate cell cycle progression with immunoglobulin light chain recombination. In the periphery, we have focused on the molecular mechanisms of receptor endocytosis and endocytic trafficking and how these mechanisms influence BCR trafficking and cell fate. As is the case with our studies of lymphopoiesis, we have derived novel in vivo models, and have performed directed in vitro studies, to obtain definitive insights into these processes. In our newest project area, we are applying our knowledge of B cell biology to understanding how in situ adaptive immune responses drive tubulointerstitial inflammation in human lupus nephritis.


Dr. Maria-Luisa Alegre

Dr. Maria-Luisa Alegre focuses on mechanisms of inactivation of T lymphocytes. Several mechanisms are in place to prevent T cells from reacting to self-antigens and triggering autoimmunity. These include deletion of the majority of auto-reactive T cells during T cell development in the thymus, and death or inactivation of the remaining autoreactive T cells when they start circulating in the body. Dr. Alegre’s laboratory studies these peripheral mechanisms of tolerance, as it may be possible to inactivate T cells to prevent or treat autoimmunity or transplant rejection. Dr. Alegre’s laboratory studies include the biochemical signals and function triggered by engagement of surface molecules, such as CTLA-4 and PD-1 that normally stop an immune response after elimination of the antigen; the biochemical signals within T cells that are necessary to reject a transplanted organ or to develop an autoimmune disease. To this end, the laboratory possesses several mouse models of autoimmune diseases, as well as of skin, cardiac and pancreatic islet transplantation.


Dr. Fotini Gounari

Dr. Fontini Gounari is interested in signal transduction pathways that are involved in the development of hematopoietic stem cells into the T-cell lineage and deregulations that lead to leukemia. A major focus of research is the pre-T-Cell Receptor, that triggers the expansion and differentiation of immature thymocytes. Her work has demonstrated a cross talk of preTCR signaling with the Wnt/beta-catenin and Notch cascades. Both Wnt/beta-catenin and Notch have been directly linked with human cancer. Dr. Gounari is currently studying the physiological versus pathological interactions of these pathways in developing versus transformed thymocytes.


Dr. Haochu Huang

Dr. Haochu Huang is interested in the roles of autoreactive B cells and the regulation of B cell tolerance and autoantibody production in autoimmune diseases. Current areas of interest include studying the interplay between autoreactive T and B cells, differentiation of plasma cells, influence of genetic background on B cell tolerance and the signaling pathways in B cells leading to tolerance.


Dr. Tammy Utset

Dr. Tammy Utset performs clinical research in the area of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. She has an interest in work disability in SLE, barriers to exercise, quality of life, health disparities in SLE. She maintains a broad clinical SLE database and a large clinical practice in SLE for academic research and clinical trials, and has mentored numerous Fellows interested in clinical research projects. She also collaborates with numerous basic immunologists in translational research projects in SLE. Dr. Utset is currently the Fellowship Program Director.


Dr. Michael Becker

Dr. Michael Becker has a specialty interest in gout, and conducts a weekly gout clinic.He has ongoing clinical trials of novel therapies for gout. Dr. Becker is a highly experienced mentor who is world-renowned for his research on purine metabolism and expertise in clinical gout research.


Dr. Curran

Dr. James Curran is a senior and expert clinician. He is widely sought out in the Chicago area for his clinical care.