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Mark J. Shlomchik, M.D., Ph.D., Named Chair of Department of Immunology, Pitt School of Medicine ​

PITTSBURGH, April 16, 2013 – A researcher renowned for his contributions to our understanding of the autoimmune disease systemic lupus erythematosus has been selected to head the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine’s Department of Immunology.

Mark J. Shlomchik, M.D., Ph.D., succeeds founding department chair Olivera Finn, Ph.D., who will continue her research into peptide vaccines against pancreatic and colon cancers at Pitt. He is expected to start July 1.

“Dr. Shlomchik has been very widely recognized for his research achievements,” said Arthur S. Levine, M.D., Pitt’s senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and dean, School of Medicine. “His research interests spanning basic to translational immunology mesh well with the institutional strengths of our immunology department and put him in a good position to further build them.”

He added that while Dr. Shlomchik’s primary responsibility will be the leadership of his department, he will work closely with other important entities in the medical school which focus on various aspects of immunology, including the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute, the Center for Vaccine Research, and the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute.

In the area of lupus, Dr. Shlomchik’s work was among the first to elucidate the roles of B lymphocytes and Toll-like receptors in promoting disease. Both of these are now targets of drugs that are either approved or in development to treat autoimmune disorders in patients. In October 2012, Dr. Shlomchik’s team showed in Science Translational Medicine that an enzyme complex called NADPH oxidase, or NOX2, which plays an important role in the body’s resistance to bacteria and fungi, is also necessary to curb genetic predisposition to lupus. In addition to autoimmunity, B-cell immune responses and how vaccines elicit protective antibodies, Dr. Shlomchik has worked on bone marrow transplantation, where some of his findings have also resulted in an ongoing clinical trial.

“I am very excited to move to the University of Pittsburgh to succeed Dr. Finn as the second leader of an up-and-coming Department of Immunology,” he said. “Pitt has wonderful resources and people and I look forward to working with faculty to broaden and deepen immunology research there, with the long-term goal of having an impact on disease therapy and prevention in patients.”

Dr. Shlomchik received his medical and doctoral degrees in 1989 from the University of Pennsylvania, where he also completed residency training in pathology and laboratory medicine. After postdoctoral work at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, he joined the faculty at Yale University, rising to the rank of full professor in 2004.

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