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  • Professor & Head, Center for Autoimmune, Musculoskeletal and Hematopoietic Diseases, Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research
  • Professor, Molecular Medicine and Medicine, Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell
  • Director, PhD Program, Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell

About the investigator

Dr. Betty Diamond graduated with a BA from Harvard University and an MD from Harvard Medical School. She performed a residency in internal medicine at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center and received postdoctoral training in immunology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Dr. Diamond has headed the rheumatology divisions at Albert Einstein School of Medicine and at Columbia University Medical Center. She also directed the Medical Scientist Training Program at Albert Einstein School of Medicine for many years. She is currently head of the Center for Autoimmune, Musculoskeletal and Hematopoietic Diseases at The Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research and director of the PhD and MD/PhD programs of the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell.

A former president of the American Association of Immunology, Dr. Diamond has also served on the Board of Directors of the American College of Rheumatology and the Scientific Council of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS).

Dr. Diamond is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and a member of the National Academy of Medicine.

Research focus

There are many diseases characterized by the presence of autoantibodies, although the contribution of the autoreactive B cells and autoantibodies to tissue injury in these diseases is often unclear.

Dr. Diamond’s laboratory studies DNA-reactive B cells in the autoimmune disease systemic lupus erythematosus. Her team is interested in the alterations within B cells that lead to the survival and activation of DNA-reactive B cells and in the alterations in other cells of the immune system that affect B cell function and can also lead to the survival and activation of DNA-reactive B cells. The laboratory is particularly interested in the regulation of autoreactive B cells that acquire autoreactivity by somatic mutation during a germinal center response and in determining whether the processes that govern the selection of the B cell repertoire early in B cell development are the same as those that govern selection after activation. These studies are designed to provide new strategies to protect against autoimmune disease.

Dr. Diamond’s laboratory also examines whether autoantibodies in individuals with autoimmune disease or protective antibodies in non-autoimmune individuals might frequently cause brain injury if they penetrate the blood-brain barrier. It is their hypothesis that antibodies may frequently contribute to acquired changes in cognition or behavior.

Regulation of B cell repertoire

Dr. Diamond focuses on the regulation autoreactive B cells as they mature to immunocompetence and is particularly interested in the B cell receptor signaling pathway. It is her lab’s hypothesis that B cell hypo or hyperresponsiveness to antigen can both lead to autoantibody production.

The laboratory has also shown that a process termed receptor editing causes post-germinal center B cells to express a new light chain in an effort to transform an autoreactive B cell receptor into one that is not autoreactive. The mechanics of this process is under investigation.

Hormonal effects on B cell development and selection

Most autoimmune diseases are more common in women and there is strong evidence that estrogen contributes to this female predisposition to autoimmune disease. Dr. Diamond is studying the impact of estrogen on B cell receptor signaling and B cell maturation to a marginal zone phenotype. She is further trying to understand if estrogen alters the germinal center response, as it has been shown to regulate both RAG and AID expression.

Dendritic cell regulation of B cell function

Dr. Diamond has been studying how alterations in the function of dendritic cells can determine B cell selection and maturation. These studies provide information on an important link between the innate and the adaptive immune systems and will help identify new pathways for therapeutic intervention in autoimmune disease.

C1q as an immune modulator

The laboratory has shown that LAIR-1 is an inhibitory receptor for C1q. Furthermore, in conjunction with HMGB1, C1q can polarize monocytes to an M2-like anti-inflammatory macrophage. The laboratory is interested in understanding how C1q interrupts pro-inflammatory pathways and in constructing a molecule with C1q-like function for therapeutic use.

Antibodies and brain function

Dr. Diamond’s lab has become very interested in a subset of anti-DNA antibodies that cross-reacts with NMDA receptors and alters function in the adult brain following a breach in the blood-brain barrier and alters fetal brain development as a consequence of in utero exposure to maternal antibodies. They have recently extended their studies of anti-brain antibodies to ask whether these might account for some cases of autism spectrum disorder.

Lab members

Czeslawa Kowal, PhD
Assistant Investigator
Research: Studies how human lupus autoantibodies against NMDA receptors mediate
cognitive impairment.
Email: [email protected]

Simone Mader, PhD
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Research: Studying the role of various anti-brain antibodies in different autoimmune diseases, as well as the effect of in utero exposure to the astrocytic water channel protein Aquaporin-4 on blood brain barrier development.
Email: [email protected]

Jolien Suurmond, PhD
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Research: Studying development of autoreactive plasma cells in SLE.
Email: [email protected]

Yemil Atisha Fregoso, MD
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Research: B cells and autoantibodies in SLE.
Email: [email protected]

Su Hwa Jang, PhD
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Research: Molecular and epigenetic mechanism of PRDM1 in dendritic cells in SLE.
Email: [email protected]

Sun Jung Kim, PhD
Assistant Professor
Research: Studies dendritic cell function and the impact of altered dendritic cell function in B-cell response.
Email: [email protected]

Myoungsun Son, PhD
Assistant Professor
Education: PhD in Immune biology at Molecular Life Science, Ewha Women’s
University, Seoul Korea
Research: The role of IgG or IgM anti-DNA antibodies in SLE.
Email: [email protected]

Susan Malkiel, PhD
Instructor
Research: Study of sisters of patients with lupus to find early patterns of immune dysregulation that develop into disease in order to design better strategies for preventing or treating lupus.
Email: sm[email protected]

Lior Brimberg, PhD
Assistant Investigator
Research: Study in contribution of maternal antibodies to autism spectrum disorder.
Email: [email protected]

Ashley Barlev
Hofstra Student
Research: Studying the development of autoreactive plasma cells in SLE.
Email: [email protected]

Jacquelyn Nestor
Hofstra Student
Research: Studying the role of autoantibodies, complement proteins, and microglia in the development of neuroinflammatory disorders such as Neuropsychiatric SLE.
Email: [email protected]

Adriana Gata-Garcia
Hofstra Student
Research: Studying the contribution of sex chromosomes and gonadal hormones to the male-bias of neuroanatomical and behavioral ASD-like phenotypes observed in mice exposed in utero to an anti-brain antibody isolated from mothers of autistic children.
Email: [email protected]

Justin Calise
Hofstra Student
Research: Studying risk alleles of the SLE-associated gene IRF5 on human B cells with the goal of understanding how these risk alleles predispose to autoimmunity.
Email: [email protected]

Tianye Liu
Hofstra Student
Research: Studying monocytes to explore the molecular mechanism of macrophage polarization and to provide therapeutic options for autoinflammatory diseases/SLE.
Email: [email protected]

Andrea La Bella
Research Assistant
Email: [email protected]

Silvia Caldera
Research Assistant
Email: [email protected]

Rivka Lederman
Research Assistant
Email: [email protected]

Chunfang (Lydia) Zhao
Research Assistant
Email: [email protected]

Minakshi Rana
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Research: Elucidation of mechanisms contributing to sepsis-associated immune dysfunction.
Email: [email protected]

Nicolas Sapountzis
Research Assistant
Email: [email protected]

Education

Radcliffe College, Cambridge, MA
Degree: BA
1969
Field of study: Art history, Magna Cum

Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
Degree: MD
1973
Field of study: Medicine

Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, NY
Degree: Resident
1976
Field of study: Medicine

Albert Einstein College of Medicine, NY
Degree: PostDoc
1979
Field of study: Cell Biology

Honors & awards

  • 2017 Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society
  • 2016 Randy Fischer Award for Excellence in Lupus Basic Science
  • 2015 Lupus Research Institute-Women of Achievement: Leader in Healthcare Award
  • 2014 ACR Master
  • 2013 Fellow, NY Academy of Medicine
  • 2012 AWSM Scientific Leadership Award
  • 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award, NY Arthritis Foundation
  • 2011 ACR Mentoring Award
  • 2008 Evelyn V. Hess Research Award, Lupus Foundation of America, Inc.
  • 2006 Institute of Medicine
  • 2006 Fellow, AAAS
  • 2005 Klemperer Award, American College of Rheumatology
  • 2004 Recognition Award, National Association of MD-PhD Programs
  • 2004 Klemperer Award, New York Academy of Medicine and Arthritis Foundation (New York Chapter)
  • 2002 Arthritis Foundation, Howley Prize
  • 2001 Distinguished Investigator Award, American College of Rheumatology
  • 2000 Scientific Leadership Award, SLE Foundation
  • 1995 Association of American Physician
  • 1986 American Society for Clinical Investigation
  • 1987 Leo Davidoff Society for excellence in teaching
  • 1985-1990 Irma T. Hirschl Career Scientist Award
  • 1982-1987 American Heart Association Established Investigator
  • 1979-1982 American Cancer Society Junior Faculty Award
  • 1979 Meller Award for Basic Science, (AECOM)

Publications

  1. Braniste, V., Al-Asmakh, M., Kowal, C., Anuar, F., Abbaspour, A., Korecka, A., Bakocevic, N., Guan, NL., Kundu, , Gulyas, B., Halldin, C., Hultenby, K., Nilsson, H., Hebert, H., Volpe, TB., Diamond, B*. and Pettersson, S*. “The gut microbiota influences blood-brain barrier permeability in mice.” Science Translational Medicine 6:263 (2014) PMC4396848 *co-senior authors
  2. Honig, G., Mader, S., Chen, H., Porat, A., Ochani, M., Wang, P., Volpe, BT and Diamond, B. “Blood-brain barrier deterioration and hippocampal gene expression in polymicrobial sepsis: An evaluation of endothelial MyD88 and the vagus nerve.” PLoS One e0144215(2016) PMC 4720404
  3. Malkiel, S., Jeganathan, V., Wolfson, S. Manjarrez-Orduno, N., Marasco, E., Aranow, C., Mackay, M., Gregersen, and Diamond, B. “Checkpoints for autoreactive B cells in peripheral blood of lupus patients assessed by flow cytometry.” Arthritis & Rheumatology 68:2210-20 (2016)
  4. Son, M., Porat, A., He, M., Suurmond, J., Santiago-Schwarz, F., Andersson, U., Coleman, TR., Volpe, BT., Tracey, KJ., Al-Abed, Y. and Diamond, B. “C1q and HMGB1 reciprocally regulate human macrophage polarization.” Blood 128:2218-2228 (2016) PMC 5095756
  5. Brimberg, L., Mader, S., Jeganathan, V., Berlin, R., Coleman, TR., Gregersen, PK., Huerta, P., Volpe, BT., and Diamond, B. “Caspr2-reactive antibody cloned from a mother of an ASD child mediates an ASD-like phenotype in mice.” Molecular Psych 21:1663-1671(2016)
  1. Kim, SJ., Schätzle, S., Ahmed, S., Haap, W., Jang, SH., Gregersen, PK., Georgiou, G., and Diamond, B. “Increased Cathespin S in Prdm1-/-endritic cells alters TFH repertoire and contributes to lupus.” Nature Immunology 18:1016- 1024 (2017)
  2. Brimberg, L., Mader, S., Fujieda, Y., Arinuma, Y., Kowal, C., Volpe, B and Diamond, B. “Antibodies as mediators of brain pathology.” Trends in Immunol 36: 709-24 (2015)
  3. Son, M., Kim, SJ and Diamond, “SLE-associated risk factors affect DC function.” Immunol Rev. 269:100-17 (2016)
  4. Suurmond, J., Calise, J., Malkiel, S. and Diamond B. “DNA-reactive B cells in lupus.” Current Opinion in Immunol 43:1-7 (2016)
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