Episode 038: Glycoimmunology and the Groundbreaking Research of Glycan Signatures with Dr. Maverakis

MaverakisDr. Maverakis is an award-winning physician-scientist at the University of California, Davis.  He introduces his field of glycoimmunology and describes how this field is wide open to new discoveries.  Dr. Maverakis goes in further detail regarding characterization of immune glycome and glycan signature considerations in future treatments.  He concludes our interview by sharing some of his advice and resources.

 

 

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Bio:

Dr. Maverakis is an award-winning physician-scientist at the University of California, Davis. He has a long-standing interest in autoimmunity that began while working in the laboratory of the late Eli Sercarz, Ph.D. as undergraduate at UCLA. (Dr. Sercarz was an early pioneer in autoimmune research)

Dr. Maverakis continued his research endeavors as a medical student at Harvard Medical School and as a Howard Hughes Fellow at the La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology. After completing his clinical training in dermatology and his basic science training in immunology, he joined the faculty of the University of California, Davis.

At UC Davis he is now the director of a multidisciplinary clinic that specializes in treating patients with severe immune-mediated diseases. He is also the Director of Autoimmunity and Director of the UC Davis Immune Monitoring Core. As a clinical researcher, he is the PI on a variety of investigator-initiated and company-sponsored clinical studies, including phase II/III clinical trials that are testing the safety and efficacy of novel therapeutics for the treatment of immune-mediated diseases.

He is also the principal investigator of a large multidisciplinary research team that studies the pathophysiology of autoimmunity. Other areas of interest include stem cell applications to human diseases, clinical trial design and outcome measures, and melanoma immunotherapy. He is also a member of the world renowned UC Davis Foods for Health Institute where he is researching the interplay between diet and the immune system.

Dr. Maverakis’s research has been supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the Spatz Foundation. See below for a list of his research awards.

Awards

MD Summa Cum Laude, Harvard Medical School (one of only 15 students to have graduated from HMS with highest honors)| NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, National Institutes of Health | Career Award for Medical Scientists, Burroughs Welcome Fund | Physician-Scientist Career Award, Howard Hughes Medical Institute | PECASE, President Barack Obama (highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government to an early career investigator)

 

Glimpse into the interview:

ES: What are you the most excited about in your field of work and why?

EM: Glycoimmunology is an understudied field wide open to new discoveries. The technology is really just starting to come of age. We finally have the ability to ask very meaningful questions..

 

ES: Tell us about your most recent project/research?

EM: Right now we are working on several projects that are interesting. We are characterizing the immune glycome trying to answer a variety of questions. What sugars are expressed on each particular cell type of the immune system? How do these sugars evolve over time? What are the changes in the immune glycome that are seen with aging? How do the altered glycans participate in disease pathophysiology?

 

ES: What is the next big obstacle that you see in this field and what implications will this have on the world of science or your study in particular?

EM: How to apply what we find to patient care. Car we find glycan signatures that will predict someone’s likelihood that they will respond to a particular treatment? Are there glycan signatures that will help predict survival or disease severity?

 

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