Robert A. Eisenberg, MD

University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA

2002 Cardiovascular System
2006 Imaging

Robert A. Eisenberg, MDWith LRI funding in 2002, Dr. Eisenberg aimed to examine and compensate for some of the limitations of investigating atherosclerosis in people with lupus—a common and potentially fatal complication.

One limitation is that coronary artery plaques accumulate gradually, often stretching studies out over years. Another is that the disease tends to be clinically silent until a heart attack or other serious problem occurs.

Dr. Eisenberg’s solution: develop a new breed of mice with an inherited susceptibility to both lupus and atherosclerosis.

Today his mouse model of lupus-associated atherosclerosis supplies researchers with a powerful tool for dissecting the mechanisms at play and help in developing novel methods to prevent and treat premature heart disease.

With LRI funding in 2006, Dr. Eisenberg pursued a novel hypothesis using imaging to observe the complex inner workings of the immune system.

Dr. Eisenberg worked to develop novel imaging methods that might enable scientists to ‘visualize’ B lymphocytes in lupus patients, especially during B-cell directed therapy.

Drug developers, fully aware that B lymphocytes play such an important part in the immune system’s misdirected attack on one’s self in lupus, are looking for agents that can target these cells and lessen their numbers.

Dr. Eisenberg’s research, to be done in mice, holds hope for yielding valuable strategies for monitoring lupus activity and response to therapy in people with the disease.

“The funding of the LRI through two projects has been very important in maintaining the focus of my laboratory on lupus over the last ten years. We are still >90% committed to lupus research.” – Dr. Robert Eisenberg

Select publications:

Choudhury A, Maldonado MA, Cohen PL, Eisenberg RA. The role of host CD4 T cells in the pathogenesis of the chronic graft-versus-host model of systemic lupus erythematosus. J Immunol. 2005 Jun 15;174(12):7600-9.

Accelerated atherosclerosis in ApoE deficient lupus mouse model. Ma Z, Choudhury A, Kang S-A, Monestier M, Cohen PL, Eisenberg RA. Clin Immunol 127, 168-175, 2008.

Ongoing Funding

In 2007, Dr. Eisenberg secured a 3-year, $450,000 grant from Wyeth Pharmaceuticals to develop MRI and other techniques and methods to quantitate the distribution of B cells in mice by sequential in vivo imaging.

And in 2010, Dr. Eisenberg’s NIH R01 proposal for using magnetic resonance contrast agents to monitor the efficacy of B cell depletion therapy in mouse models garnered a priority percentile of 5 percent—likely resulting in a $1.25 million grant to continue work prompted by his 2002 LRI grant.

Rev. July 2010