Gerlinde Wernig, MD

Stanford University School of Medicine

Bio

Gerlinde Wernig is a physician-scientist by training a pathologist and hematologist/oncologist and a junior investigator at Stanford at the Institute for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research. Her laboratory studies fibrotic diseases, a condition of excessive scarring of tissues. Fibrotic diseases occur when fibroblasts – a critical component of the structural tissue of the body – proliferate and include, but are not limited to fibrosis of the skin and lung such as in scleroderma, the kidney, the liver, pathologic wound healing, and surgical adhesions. Despite fibrotic diseases being life-threatening – the mortality rate of some are higher than that of cancer – current treatments are ineffective.

Her mission is to identify new targets for treatment through uncovering the underlying mechanisms of fibrosis. She seeks to understand how fibroblasts crosstalk with one another, with the immune system, and with epithelial and mesenchymal cells. By utilizing mass cytometry, expression and chromatin studies of patient-derived primary tissues at the single cell level in combination with in vivo modeling of fibrotic diseases in mice, she gains insight into the pathophysiology of fibrotic diseases. She employs immunotherapy combined with small molecules in order to manipulate signaling pathways at the transcriptional level to disrupt pro-fibrotic cell function and fate. The transcriptional networks she studies play key roles in fibrotic diseases and immunology. Understanding them will provide the critical foundation to translate her findings into immunotherapies and clinical practice.

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