Departments of Internal Medicine, Pathology & Immunology, Neuroscience
Director, Center for Neuroimmunology and Neuroinfectious Diseases
Associate Director, Medical Scientists Training Program
Washington University School of Medicine - St. Louis
Dr. Robyn S. Klein received her M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from Albert Einstein College of Medicine. She then completed her internship and residency in Internal Medicine at the Brigham & Women's Hospital, Harvard University and her fellowship in Infectious Diseases and post-doctoral training in Immunology at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard University. Dr. Klein joined the Washington University School of Medicine in 2003, where she developed a neuroimmunology basic and translational science research program focused on the pathogenesis of neuroinflammatory diseases of the central nervous system (CNS). Studies in the Klein laboratory focus on cellular and molecular mechanisms that orchestrate inflammation during both viral and autoimmune encephalitides via endothelial-immune cell interactions. The experimental approach involves the development of in vitro models of the blood-brain barrier to study the CNS entry of WNV, mononuclear cells, and of the signaling responses that regulate vascular permeability. Studies using in vivo models for both autoimmune and WNV encephalitides focus on identifying the localizing cues that control leukocyte entry and persistent inflammation. Work over the past few years has defined novel roles for cytokines and chemokines in the regulation of blood-brain barrier permeability to protective versus pathogenic leukocytes, and to West Nile virus (WNV), a positive strand flavivirus that may enter the CNS and cause encephalitis. These inflammatory cues also regulate CNS repair by neural stem cells (NSCs) in mice with viral infection or demyelinating diseases. Aspects related to NSC-mediated repair include defining the localizing, proliferative and differentiation cues that lead to successful repair of damaged neurons and myelin. These studies will advance our understanding of normal CNS immune surveillance and its relationship to the wide range in inflammatory patterns observed in various neuroinflammatory diseases. This information will also lead to the identification of novel therapeutic targets, which is much needed in an era where there is little to offer patients with these diseases.