UF and FIU Tackling Lupus Through Innovative Partnership

Erika Moore, Ph.D.
Erika Moore, Ph.D.

Erika Moore, Ph.D., assistant professor and holder of the Rhines Rising Star Larry Hench professorship, will be part of an innovative research collaboration between the University of Florida (UF) Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering and the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine at Florida International University (FIU).

Dr. Moore will work with Karen Abbott, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Associate Director for the Translational Glycobiology Institute at FIU. Their research will help advance current therapies for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), an autoimmune disease affecting organ systems throughout the body and causing chronic inflammation and tissue damage.

Of the estimated 1.5 million Americans and over 5 million people worldwide suffering from lupus, 90% are women. There is currently no cure.

“Not only does lupus overwhelmingly affect women, but it’s also two to three times more prevalent in women of color,” said Dr. Moore. “Our work will explore not only why it’s mostly women, we will also delve into the significant disparity between African American and Caucasian American lupus patients.”

This research intends to identify ancestral trends in lupus pathogenesis, which may lead to the development of better-targeted treatments across all demographics.

 Dr. Moore’s current NIH KL2 Career Development Award work focuses on using biomaterial platforms to understand how immune cells influence SLE’s progression and regeneration. Dr. Abbot’s lab focuses on discovering and validating glycoprotein biomarkers for human cancers – primarily ovarian cancer. 

Together, they will examine differences in the proteins on the surface of immune cells for clues about how they may contribute to SLE.

“This partnership creates a unique diversity of collaborative techniques,” said Dr. Moore. “My lab is well-equipped to conduct flow cytometry and gene characterization experiments, and Dr. Abbot’s lab is equally equipped to conduct mass spectrometry glycoprotein analysis.”

The J. Crayton Pruitt Family Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) at UF is sponsoring the award.