Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason (BRI) is dedicated to discovering causes and cures of a wide variety of human diseases, with special emphasis on immune mediated disorders. The staff at BRI is led by Director Gerald Nepom, MD, PhD, an immunologist noted for his work identifying the mechanisms that trigger autoimmune diseases such as Type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. Other Institute scientists focus on the molecular signals important to basic cell biology and immunology, the genetic risks for diseases such as diabetes and breast cancer, and the biology of the cardiovascular system in both disease and health. Complementing these laboratory studies is a vigorous clinical research program, offering subjects the opportunity to participate in Phase I and II clinical trials of novel diagnostic tools and new therapies. The Clinical Research Program exemplifies BRI's commitment to being a leader in translational research - moving today's new laboratory discoveries to the clinic where they can benefit patients.
Research at BRI is organized into Programs that each individually focus on a key research topic, but that together synergize through the use of shared resources and expertise.
The Clinical Research Program at BRI applies discoveries from the laboratory bench to the patient's bedside. This bench-to-bedside approach enables researchers to rapidly develop advancements in medical treatments with the potential to directly benefit patients living with disease. The Clinical Research Program conducts research trials in arthritis, cancer, diabetes and many other conditions. Within cancer research, BRI is involved in a wide range of clinical trials for patients with cancers of the breast, prostate, lung, colon and many other sites. These efforts bring together both our basic scientists and clinical investigators.
Diabetes Research at Benaroya Research Institute is focused on identifying the causes and cures of Type 1 (autoimmune) diabetes, through interactive, collaborative programs in basic and clinical research. Laboratory emphasis on immunologic and genetic markers of disease is closely linked to clinical trials and metabolic studies, and to the development of new preclinical models of immune tolerance and disease.
The Hope Heart Matrix Biology Program is focused on diseases of the cardiovascular system – the heart and blood vessels – and includes research at both the basic science and translational levels. To design therapeutic agents that can regulate blood vessel growth and regeneration of heart/vascular tissue requires a greater understanding of how these processes work in normal tissues. Various approaches include the analysis of atherosclerotic plaque, repair of tissue damaged during a heart attack, construction of artificial blood vessels, and characterization of macromolecules (proteins, proteoglycans) that participate in the extracellular regulation of cell behavior.
The scientific mission of the Immunology Program at the Benaroya Research Institute is to better understand the mechanisms that underlie the pathology seen in patients with autoimmune diseases such as Type 1 diabetes. Our approaches include developing novel model systems of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. We use these model systems to determine how the activity of the immune system is regulated, and to understand how these regulatory mechanisms breakdown during autoimmunity.
With the explosion of data from genome studies and molecular profiling technologies, huge amounts of biological information are now available. Scientists in the Systems Immunology Division use complex systems theory, high throughput techniques as well as mathematical and computational tools to understand the functioning of the immune system in health and disease.
The Translational Research Program is designed to act as an interface between the laboratory bench researchers, clinicians and patients. Studies are designed cooperatively between the scientist in the laboratory and clinical researchers with medical expertise. At BRI, the goal of the Translational Research Program is to focus BRI scientists' expertise in immunology and genetics on the problem of immune mediated diseases. The translational program accomplishes this by enhancing communication between clinicians and scientists as well as providing the resource of our immune mediated registry and repository to research scientists both at BRI and elsewhere.