Associate Member of Staff
Assistant Professor, Department of Oral Medicine, Infection and Immunity, Harvard School of Dental Medicine
Qing Yu is interested in understanding the key causes and players in several autoimmune diseases, with the goal of using the knowledge to develop novel, effective therapeutic strategies for these conditions. One of her particular interests is Sjӧgren’s syndrome, a systemic autoimmune disease that primarily affects salivary and lacrimal glands, causing dry mouth, dry eyes and an array of systemic health problems.
Sjӧgren’s disease affects the oral and overall health of about 4 million Americans. There is no cure for the disease and current treatment primarily provides short term relief of the symptoms and discomforts. Yu studies this highly complex and challenging disease from multiple angles, and she hopes to identify key host and microbial factors that promote or inhibit Sjӧgren’s syndrome, understand the mechanisms of their actions, and develop new immune-, microbiome- and stem cell-based strategies to ameliorate this disease.
The main ongoing research projects in the Yu Lab are:
Elucidating the role of effector T cells and proinflammatory cytokines in Sjӧgren’s disease pathogenesis and progression
Characterizing and harnessing the immunosuppressive activity of regulatory T cells in Sjӧgren’s disease
Assessing the role of oral and gut microbiota in Sjӧgren’s syndrome pathogenesis and manipulating the microbiota to treat this disease
Establishing new stem cell-based strategies that can sustainably restore the function of salivary glands affected by Sjӧgren’s syndrome or other inflammatory diseases.
The Yu lab employs samples from Sjӧgren’s patients, mouse disease models, and a variety of cutting-edge technologies and innovative approaches to carry out these studies.
Yu is also interested in studying several other high-impact autoimmune diseases, including type-1 diabetes and systemic erythematosus lupus, and her findings from Sjӧgren’s disease have generated some important insights into these other autoimmune conditions as well. “I am hoping my research will lead to better treatment for millions of people suffering from these painful and costly autoimmune diseases” said Yu.
Peking University Health Science Center, PhD, 1997, Immunology
Peking University Health Science Center, MD, 1992