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Your Environment. Your Health.

Environmental Autoimmunity Group

Mechanisms of Autoimmune Diseases

Lisa Rider, M.D.
Lisa Rider, M.D.
Head and Senior Clinician, Environmental Autoimmunity Group Clinical Research Branch
Tel 301-451-6272
Fax 301-480-2813
10 Center Dr
Bethesda, MD 20892-1301

Research Summary

Lisa G. Rider, M.D., is Head of the Environmental Autoimmunity Group and serves as its Senior Research Physician. The mission of the Environmental Autoimmunity Group is to understand the mechanisms for the development of autoimmune diseases so that group members can extend healthy life and reduce the burdens of illness and disability. The group conducts a broad program of clinical, translational, and basic investigations in the area of adult and pediatric autoimmune diseases. Dr. Rider leads the pediatric research studies and pediatric enrollments in the group.

The group uses multidisciplinary approaches to understand the roles of genetic and environmental risk factors for these diseases. Group members are currently focusing investigations on the Systemic Rheumatic Diseases. The diseases Dr. Rider is most involved with in the group’s research studies include the Idiopathic Inflammatory Myopathies (Dermatomyositis, Polymyositis, Inclusion Body Myositis, and related Myositis Syndromes). These illnesses are heterogeneous groups of disorders defined by chronic muscle inflammation and are prototypic autoimmune diseases.

The group supports studies at the NIH Clinical Center, which include epidemiologic surveys, molecular genetic studies, clinical investigations in disease pathogenesis, and the development of clinical tools for the assessment of innovative therapies.

Major areas of research:

  • Understanding Phenotypes, Genetic and Environmental Risk Factors for Pediatric Autoimmune Diseases, particularly Juvenile and Adult Myositis
  • Understanding mechanisms for development of autoimmune diseases, particularly Juvenile Myositis
  • Developing new assessments and novel therapies for myositis

Current projects:

  • Environmental Risk Factors for the Anti-Synthetase Syndrome - An ongoing study enrolling patients who have been diagnosed with polymyositis or dermatomyositis in the past year. The purpose of this study is to attempt to determine what environmental risk factors may lead to the development of idiopathic inflammatory myopathy (IIM) overall and in particular what risk factors lead someone to develop one type of IIM over another.
  • Pathogenic Studies in Families with Twins or Siblings Discordant for Systemic Rheumatic Disorders - An ongoing study enrolling patients with polymyositis, dermatomyositis, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE, Lupus), rheumatoid arthritis, or systemic sclerosis (Scleroderma) who have been diagnosed within 47 months and if they have a healthy same sex sibling who was born within 47 months of the patient’s birthday. The purpose of this study is to try and determine different environmental and genetic risk factors that may contribute to the development of autoimmune diseases.
  • Studies in the Natural History & Pathogenesis of Childhood-Onset and Adult-Onset Idiopathic Inflammatory Myopathies - An ongoing study enrolling patients with juvenile and adult myositis, healthy volunteers and patients with related diseases. Most patients have been diagnosed with dermatomyositis or polymyositis. The study is examining disease subgroups, genetic and environmental factors for the development of these diseases and for associated illness complications, developing new assessment tools, imaging studies and biomarkers.
  • Calcinosis Study - This study is investigating the safety and efficacy of a medication, sodium thiosulfate, to treat patients with juvenile and adult dermatomyositis with moderate to severe calcinosis. Calcinosis, the development of calcium deposits in the muscle, skin and other tissues, can be painful and cause disabilities and there are no known effective therapies.

Rider oversees investigators and trainees in the group and leads national and international consortia that evaluate and conduct a wide range of basic and clinical studies on juvenile and adult myositis. She obtained her M.D. at the Duke University School of Medicine, completed her pediatrics training at Seattle Children’s Hospital of University of Washington, and her fellowship in pediatric rheumatology at Seattle Children’s Hospital, Seattle, WA, Children’s National Medical Center, and the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD.

Rider has focused much of her work on autoimmune muscle diseases in children and has received several awards of distinction. She has authored or co-authored nearly 200 research publications, reviews, books, and book chapters. She also co-established and is co-chair of the International Myositis Assessment and Clinical Studies Group (IMACS) and the Childhood Myositis Heterogeneity Study Group. Rider leads many pediatric studies in the Myositis Genetics Consortium (MYOGEN) to define new genetic risk and protective factors for myositis and is investigating environmental risk factors for pediatric autoimmune diseases.

Relevance to NIEHS Mission

Our work is helping to identify new genetic and environmental risk and protective factors for myositis and other autoimmune diseases, particularly in children and how these differ from adults. Our goal is to define a number of genetic and environmental risk factors for disease development and to understand the mechanisms involved in initiating illness. Identification of environmental risk factors for disease may lead to preventive strategies to modulate environmental factors to decrease the severity of illness or even prevent its onset.

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