Welcome from the Department Chair
Welcome to the Department of Investigative Medicine. We focus on discovery of key organizing principles for normal molecular, cellular and organ function, and elucidation of those pathological disruptions that manifest themselves in abnormal disease states. Our studies are pursued through laboratory-based research, within a departmental culture that stresses collegiality, sharing, and mutual support.
Much of our investigative work revolves around the immune system, and more specifically, the B cell arm of the immune system that produces protective antibodies. This work, and the investigators who pursue it, comprises the Center for Immunobiology, a major component of the Department. B cells and the antibodies they make are the subject of renewed interest in the age of pandemic SARS-CoV-2, drug-resistant bacteria, and tropical viral infections. B cells play a further positive role in providing protection from cardiovascular, malignant, and infectious diseases, but aberrant function can lead to autoimmune dyscrasias. Deeper understanding of the mechanisms involved in B cell development, maintenance, and function is likely to guide improvements in protection against, and/or treatment for, these illnesses. An additional focus of our work revolves around neurodegenerative diseases, and the abnormal protein aggregations that characterize illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s Diseases, and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Work in this area aims to elucidate ways of opposing and disassembling abnormal collections of disordered proteins.
In addition to our laboratory-based studies, a key goal of our department is to strengthen and expand investigational efforts at WMed and to develop a community of science across Kalamazoo. We sponsor the Seminars in Investigative Medicine series which brings nationally recognized investigators to the medical school to present their latest insights in public lectures. We direct research core facilities, including the Flow Cytometry and Imaging Core, and the Sequencing Core, both of which are available to internal and external investigators. We conduct open educational lectures on immunofluorescent staining and cell sorting. And we organize a monthly journal club on topics in immunology. These and other activities are designed to promote free exchange of ideas and turbocharge our work. In particular, we invite the entire WMed community – medical students, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, clinical fellows, residents and faculty – to join us in any or all of these activities. Together, we will make great strides in understanding the processes that underlie health and disease and exploit that knowledge to counteract illness and ease suffering.