Center for Autoimmunity and Inflammation

Center for Autoimmunity and Inflammation

The newly established Center for Autoimmunity and Inflammation expands La Jolla Institute’s existing autoimmune and inflammatory disease research and enables our experts to take a deep dive into the complexity of the immune system. LJI researchers work to uncover the causes and commonalities among different autoimmune diseases, such as Type I diabetes, lupus, and inflammatory bowel disease, and other inflammatory diseases such as asthma, atopic dermatitis, and Parkinson’s. Our aim is to develop new treatments that teach the immune system to tolerate the body’s own cells and to not develop overt immune responses.


The majority of auto-immune and immune-related diseases are complex diseases, where a combination of genetic and non-genetic factors plays out against the complexity and diversity of the human immune system. What we don’t know is which genetic risk factors and environmental exposures have to come together and how they interact on the molecular level to push the immune system “over the edge” and into the realm of active autoimmune or inflammatory disease.

LJI is one of the few organizations in the world solely dedicated to research on the immune system. As a result, LJI researchers have wide-ranging expertise in the fundamental mechanisms of self-tolerance, as well as many of the autoimmune or inflammatory diseases that result when self-tolerance breaks down or natural mechanisms to limit the immune response do not work effectively. LJI scientists recently unveiled a publicly available immune atlas, which provides a map of how individual genetic variations affect gene expression in human immune cells. It contains a trove of data that is critical for deciphering how natural genetic variation shapes the immune system’s ability to protect our health. This combination of strengths in fundamental immunology, genomics and data analysis, places LJI researchers in a unique position to unravel the complexities or autoimmune and inflammatory disease.


Ferhat Ay, Ph.D.
Chris Benedict, Ph.D.
Hilde Cheroutre, Ph.D.
Michael Croft, Ph.D.
Catherine “Lynn” Hedrick, Ph.D.
Matthias von Herrath, M.D.
Patrick Hogan, Ph.D.
Toshiaki Kawakami, M.D., Ph.D.
Mitchell Kronenberg, Ph.D.
Klaus Ley, M.D.
Yun-Cai Liu, Ph.D.
Anjana Rao, Ph.D.
Alessandro Sette, Dr. Biol.Sci.
Sonia Sharma, Ph.D.
Pandurangan Vijayanand, M.D. Ph.D.

From The Lab

Jul 17, 2020 // Science Advances

Researchers track down metabolic enzyme that protects against inflammation

Jun 12, 2020 // Science Immunology

LJI scientists uncover immune cells that may lower airway allergy and asthma risk

Jun 12, 2020 // Discover Magazine

Why Do Some People Get Sick All the Time, While Others Stay in Freakishly Good Health?

Apr 17, 2020 // Nature Communications

LJI Scientists Link Immune Cells to Parkinson’s Disease Onset

Jan 22, 2020

iMAP of human atherosclerosis shortlisted for £30m research prize