William T. Shearer Center for Human Immunobiology
The new, state-of-the-art William T. Shearer Center for Human Immunobiology is a translational research center focusing on the human immune system and immune mediated diseases. The Center couples world-class basic science immunologists and cutting-edge technologies integrated into a clinical setting. The highly collaborative environment produces unique studies and discoveries.
The center connects researchers throughout Texas Children’s Hospital, Baylor College of Medicine, TMC area institutions and those elsewhere to enable investigations and findings that will translate into high-impact biology and novel approaches to the diagnosis and treatment of pediatric diseases. One recent impactful publication highlights the discovery of a gene mutation that causes autoimmune-mediated lung disease and arthritis (1). This important, award-winning article highlights the type of collaborative efforts the Center is undertaking.
The center focuses on mechanistic and genetic investigations within human immunobiology and applies novel translational insights into disease areas such as:
- primary immunodeficiency
- food allergy
- anti-viral defense
- organ transplantation
- solid tumors
- cell therapies
- immunological biomarkers
- and others.
The laboratory focuses on several key technologies including microscopy, flow cytometry, as well as molecular and genomic analysis. One of the technologies is the Leica Microsystems Stimulation Emission Depletion (STED) microscope. In 2012, Texas Children's became the first institution in North America to acquire this type of microscope, which allows researchers to acquire super-resolution microscopy images with unprecedented resolution. One of several specialized microscopes in the center, the STED has the capability to examine structures with 40 nanometer resolution within a living cell.
The Center maintains a vibrant scientific faculty with training opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students, medical trainees, and post-doctoral fellows. An active exchange program facilitates collaborations with international scholars and adds to the Center’s reach. Our research seminar series features topics in human immunobiology and related areas.
The integrated, translational nature of the center allows us to bring our patients the most modern and cutting edge technologies and expertise. With the specialized infrastructure and environment that we’ve created our experienced researchers have developed new diagnostic assays that have been adopted and put to use in clinical settings. This work is ongoing with Texas Children’s Clinical Immunology Laboratory and is being extended to further develop and validate additional tests.
(1) COPA mutations impair ER-Golgi transport causing hereditary autoimmune-mediated lung disease and arthritis. 2015 Nature Genetics 47, 654-660; Watkin et al.