Robert L Modlin

University of California, Los Angeles, Los Ángeles, California, United States

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Publications (328)2825.41 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Antimicrobial effector mechanisms are central to the function of the innate immune response in host defense against microbial pathogens. In humans, activation of Toll-like receptor 2/1 (TLR2/1) on monocytes induces a vitamin D dependent antimicrobial activity against intracellular mycobacteria. Here, we report that TLR activation of monocytes triggers induction of the defensin beta 4 gene (DEFB4), requiring convergence of the IL-1beta and vitamin D receptor (VDR) pathways. TLR2/1 activation triggered IL-1beta activity, involving the upregulation of both IL-1beta and IL-1 receptor, and downregulation of the IL-1 receptor antagonist. TLR2/1L induction of IL-1beta was required for upregulation of DEFB4, but not cathelicidin, whereas VDR activation was required for expression of both antimicrobial genes. The differential requirements for induction of DEFB4 and cathelicidin were reflected by differences in their respective promoter regions; the DEFB4 promoter had one vitamin D response element (VDRE) and two NF-kappaB sites, whereas the cathelicidin promoter had three VDREs and no NF-kappaB sites. Transfection of NF-kappaB into primary monocytes synergized with 1,25D3 in the induction of DEFB4 expression. Knockdown of either DEFB4 or cathelicidin in primary monocytes resulted in the loss of TLR2/1-mediated antimicrobial activity against intracellular mycobacteria. Therefore, these data identify a novel mechanism of host defense requiring the induction of IL-1beta in synergy with vitamin D activation, for the TLR-induced antimicrobial pathway against an intracellular pathogen.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2009 · PLoS ONE
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    Valencia P Walker · Robert L Modlin
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    ABSTRACT: Over the past 20 y, a resurgence in vitamin D deficiency and nutritional rickets has been reported throughout the world, including the United States. Inadequate serum vitamin D concentrations have also been associated with complications from other health problems, including tuberculosis, cancer (prostate, breast, and colon), multiple sclerosis, and diabetes. These findings support the concept of vitamin D possessing important pleiotropic actions outside of calcium homeostasis and bone metabolism. In children, an association of nutritional rickets with respiratory compromise has long been recognized. Recent epidemiologic studies clearly demonstrate the link between vitamin D deficiency and the increased incidence of respiratory infections. Further research has also elucidated the contribution of vitamin D in the host defense response to infection. However, the mechanism(s) by which vitamin D levels contribute to pediatric infections and immune function has yet to be determined. This knowledge is particularly relevant and timely, because infants and children seem more susceptible to viral rather than bacterial infections in the face of vitamin D deficiency. The connection among vitamin D, infections, and immune function in the pediatric population indicates a possible role for vitamin D supplementation in potential interventions and adjuvant therapies.
    Preview · Article · Feb 2009 · Pediatric Research
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    Delphine J Lee · Robert L Modlin

    Preview · Article · Jan 2009 · Nature medicine
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    ABSTRACT: An essential function of the innate immune system is to directly trigger antimicrobial mechanisms to defend against invading pathogens. In humans, one such pathway involves activation by TLR2/1L leading to the vitamin D-dependent induction of antimicrobial peptides. In this study, we found that TLR2/1-induced IL-15 was required for induction of CYP27b1, the VDR and the downstream antimicrobial peptide cathelicidin. Although both IL-15 and IL-4 triggered macrophage differentiation, only IL-15 was sufficient by itself to induce CYP27b1 and subsequent bioconversion of 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 (25D3) into bioactive 1,25D3, leading to VDR activation and induction of cathelicidin. Finally, IL-15-differentiated macrophages could be triggered by 25D3 to induce an antimicrobial activity against intracellular Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Therefore, IL-15 links TLR2/1-induced macrophage differentiation to the vitamin D-dependent antimicrobial pathway.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2008 · The Journal of Immunology
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    ABSTRACT: Intracellular pathogens survive by evading the host immune system and accessing host metabolic pathways to obtain nutrients for their growth. Mycobacterium leprae, the causative agent of leprosy, is thought to be the mycobacterium most dependent on host metabolic pathways, including host-derived lipids. Although fatty acids and phospholipids accumulate in the lesions of individuals with the lepromatous (also known as disseminated) form of human leprosy (L-lep), the origin and significance of these lipids remains unclear. Here we show that in human L-lep lesions, there was preferential expression of host lipid metabolism genes, including a group of phospholipases, and that these genes were virtually absent from the mycobacterial genome. Host-derived oxidized phospholipids were detected in macrophages within L-lep lesions, and 1 specific oxidized phospholipid, 1-palmitoyl-2-(5,6-epoxyisoprostane E2)-sn-glycero-3-phosphorylcholine (PEIPC), accumulated in macrophages infected with live mycobacteria. Mycobacterial infection and host-derived oxidized phospholipids both inhibited innate immune responses, and this inhibition was reversed by the addition of normal HDL, a scavenger of oxidized phospholipids, but not by HDL from patients with L-lep. The accumulation of host-derived oxidized phospholipids in L-lep lesions is strikingly similar to observations in atherosclerosis, which suggests that the link between host lipid metabolism and innate immunity contributes to the pathogenesis of both microbial infection and metabolic disease.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2008 · Journal of Clinical Investigation
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    Philip T Liu · Robert L Modlin
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    ABSTRACT: Tuberculosis has plagued humans for ages, and understanding the host defense mechanisms against this pathogen has been a challenge to immunologists for decades. In mouse models of tuberculosis infection, the role of nitric oxide in antimicrobial activity is well defined. Recent studies indicate a role for the induction of autophagy in host defense against mycobacterial infection. In human macrophages, vitamin D-mediated induction of antimicrobial peptides appears to be an important player in combating Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Further understanding these defense mechanisms in human tuberculosis will help the development of new interventional strategies to prevent and treat disease.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2008 · Current Opinion in Immunology
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    ABSTRACT: CD4(+) T cell clones derived from a leprosy lesion and patient blood were used to monitor the isolation and identification of an Ag associated with the self-limited form of the disease. Biochemical purification and genetic analysis identified the T cell Ag as a conserved mycobacterial lipoglycoprotein LprG. LprG-mediated activation of CD4(+) T cells required specific MHC class II restriction molecules and intracellular processing. Although LprG activated TLR2, this alone was not sufficient to stimulate or inhibit T cell activation. A striking finding was that the carbohydrate moieties of LprG were required for optimal T cell activation, because recombinant LprG produced in Escherichia coli, or recombinant LprG produced in Mycobacterium smegmatis and digested by alpha-mannosidase, did not activate T cells. This study demonstrates that the universe of bacterial T cell Ags includes lipoglycoproteins, which act as TLR2 ligands but also require glycosylation for MHC class II-restricted T cell activation in vivo.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2008 · The Journal of Immunology
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    ABSTRACT: A key cell type of the resident skin immune system is the dendritic cell (DC), which in normal skin is located in two distinct microanatomical compartments: Langerhans cells (LCs), mainly in the epidermis, and dermal DCs (DDCs), in the dermis. Here, the lineage of DDCs was investigated using monoclonal antibodies and immunohistology. We provide evidence that "DDC" comprise at least two major phenotypic populations of dendritic-appearing cells, immature DC expressing CD1, CD11c and CD208; and macrophages expressing CD209, CD206, CD163, and CD68. These data suggest that dermal dendritic-appearing macrophages comprise a novel part of the innate immune response in the resident skin immune system.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2008 · Journal of Investigative Dermatology
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    ABSTRACT: To examine the potential role of angiogenesis in leprosy. Immunohistochemical analysis of leprosy lesions. Department of Dermatology, Venereology, and Leprology, Kasturba Medical College; Division of Dermatology, University of California at Los Angeles; and Departments of Dermatology and Pathology, Emory University. Thirty-two cutaneous lesions that represented the spectrum of leprosy were obtained from 32 patients. CD31 microvessel counts. The mean CD31 microvessel count in borderline tuberculoid, midborderline, and lepromatous leprosy lesions was significantly higher than in indeterminate leprosy lesions. Increased bacterial load is associated with increased angiogenesis. Angiogenesis inhibitors may be of benefit in the treatment of leprosy.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2008 · Archives of dermatology
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    ABSTRACT: The differentiation of monocytes into dendritic cells (DC) is a key mechanism by which the innate immune system instructs the adaptive T cell response. In this study, we investigated whether leukocyte Ig-like receptor A2 (LILRA2) regulates DC differentiation by using leprosy as a model. LILRA2 protein expression was increased in the lesions of the progressive, lepromatous form vs the self-limited, tuberculoid form of leprosy. Double immunolabeling revealed LILRA2 expression on CD14+, CD68+ monocytes/macrophages. Activation of LILRA2 on peripheral blood monocytes impaired GM-CSF induced differentiation into immature DC, as evidenced by reduced expression of DC markers (MHC class II, CD1b, CD40, and CD206), but not macrophage markers (CD209 and CD14). Furthermore, LILRA2 activation abrogated Ag presentation to both CD1b- and MHC class II-restricted, Mycobacterium leprae-reactive T cells derived from leprosy patients, while cytokine profiles of LILRA2-activated monocytes demonstrated an increase in TNF-alpha, IL-6, IL-8, IL-12, and IL-10, but little effect on TGF-beta. Therefore, LILRA2 activation, by altering GM-CSF-induced monocyte differentiation into immature DC, provides a mechanism for down-regulating the ability of the innate immune system to activate the adaptive T cell response while promoting an inflammatory response.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2008 · The Journal of Immunology
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    ABSTRACT: Tissue availability of the active vitamin D metabolite, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D [1,25(OH)(2)D] is dependent on expression of the activating enzyme 1alpha-hydroxylase (CYP27b1) and its catabolic counterpart 24-hydroxylase (CYP24). The activity of these two enzymes is in turn controlled by factors including affinity of the serum vitamin D-binding protein (DBP) for 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D]; the availability of enzyme cofactors; and the relative amount of hydroxylase gene product expressed. In recent years, it has become clear that directed trafficking of substrate and enzyme is also a pivotal component of the regulated process of hormone synthesis by both renal and extrarenal tissues expressing the CYP27b1 and CYP24 genes. Extracellular regulatory trafficking events are defined by the quantity of substrate 25(OH)D entering the circulatory pool. Entry into some target cells in vivo, such as the macrophage and proximal renal tubular epithelial cells, requires 25(OH)D binding to serum DBP, followed by recognition, internalization, and intracellular release. The "released" intracellular substrate is moved to specific intracellular destinations (i.e., the mitochondrial CYP enzymes and the vitamin D receptor [VDR]) by the hsc70 family of chaperone proteins. Synthesis of 1,25(OH)(2)D is also regulated by CYP24 and its metabolically inactive splice variant CYP24-SV. Finally, initiation of transcription of 1,25(OH)(2)D-regulated genes, such as the CYP24, requires movement of the CYP27b1 product, 1,25(OH)(2)D, to the VDR in the same cell for intracrine action or export to another cell for paracrine action. In either case, the 1,25(OH)(2)D ligand is required for the VDR to heterodimerize with the retinoid x receptor and compete away the dominant-negative acting, heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein (hnRNP)-related, vitamin D response element-binding proteins that inhibit hormone-directed transactivation of genes. In this review, we use vitamin D-directed events in the human innate immune response to Mycobacterium tuberculosis as a physiologically relevant model system in which to highlight the importance of these intracellular traffic patterns.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2008 · Journal of bone and mineral research: the official journal of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research
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    ABSTRACT: Distinct CD4(+) T-cell epitopes within the same protein can be optimally processed and loaded into major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II molecules in disparate endosomal compartments. The CD1 protein isoforms traffic to these same endosomal compartments as directed by unique cytoplasmic tail sequences, therefore we reasoned that antigen/CD1 chimeras containing the different CD1 cytoplasmic tail sequences could optimally target antigens to the MHC class II antigen presentation pathway. Evaluation of trafficking patterns revealed that all four human CD1-derived targeting sequences delivered antigen to the MHC class II antigen presentation pathway, to early/recycling, early/sorting and late endosomes/lysosomes. There was a preferential requirement for different CD1 targeting sequences for the optimal presentation of an MHC class II epitope in the following hierarchy: CD1b > CD1d = CD1c > > > CD1a or untargeted antigen. Therefore, the substitution of the CD1 ectodomain with heterologous proteins results in their traffic to distinct intracellular locations that intersect with MHC class II and this differential distribution leads to specific functional outcomes with respect to MHC class II antigen presentation. These findings may have implications in designing DNA vaccines, providing a greater variety of tools to generate T-cell responses against microbial pathogens or tumours.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2007 · Immunology
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    ABSTRACT: IL-1R activation is required for neutrophil recruitment in an effective innate immune response against Staphylococcus aureus infection. In this study, we investigated the mechanism of IL-1R activation in vivo in a model of S. aureus infection. In response to a S. aureus cutaneous challenge, mice deficient in IL-1beta, IL-1alpha/IL-1beta, but not IL-1alpha, developed larger lesions with higher bacterial counts and had decreased neutrophil recruitment compared with wild-type mice. Neutrophil recruitment and bacterial clearance required IL-1beta expression by bone marrow (BM)-derived cells and not by non-BM-derived resident cells. In addition, mice deficient in the inflammasome component apoptosis-associated speck-like protein containing a caspase recruitment domain (ASC) had the same defects in neutrophil recruitment and host defense as IL-1beta-deficient mice, demonstrating an essential role for the inflammasome in mediating the production of active IL-1beta to promote neutrophil recruitment in host defense against S. aureus. This finding was further supported by the ability of recombinant active IL-1beta to control the infection and promote bacterial clearance in IL-1beta-deficient mice. These studies define a key host defense circuit where inflammasome-mediated IL-1beta production by BM-derived cells signals IL-1R on non-BM-derived resident cells to activate neutrophil recruitment in the innate immune response against S. aureus in vivo.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2007 · The Journal of Immunology
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    John S Adams · Philip T Liu · Rene Chun · Robert L Modlin · Martin Hewison
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    ABSTRACT: Defensin is a generic name reserved for an endogenously synthesized antimicrobial agent. The purpose of this review is to describe a series of discoveries that led to the proposal that 25-hydroxylated metabolites of vitamin D are key, intracellular regulators of the synthesis and action of naturally occurring defensin molecules against bacterial antigens. The discussion will (1) highlight the basic elements of human immune response that is responsive to vitamin D, (2) recount work relevant to the extrarenal expression of the vitamin D-1-hydroxlase (CYP27b1) in the macrophage as an initiator of the innate immune response, and (3) describe recent work on the relevance of the vitamin D intracrine-autocrine-paracrine system in a model of a common and devastating human disease, tuberculosis.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2007 · Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences
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    Philip T Liu · Steffen Stenger · Dominic H Tang · Robert L Modlin
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    ABSTRACT: Host defense against intracellular pathogens depends upon innate and adaptive antimicrobial effector pathways. TLR2/1-activation of monocytes leads to the vitamin D-dependent production of cathelicidin and, at the same time, an antimicrobial activity against intracellular Mycobacterium tuberculosis. To determine whether induction of cathelicidin was required for the vitamin D-triggered antimicrobial activity, the human monocytic cell line THP-1 was infected with M. tuberculosis H37Ra and then activated with the active vitamin D hormone 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D(3) (1,25D(3)). 1,25D(3) stimulation resulted in antimicrobial activity against intracellular M. tuberculosis and expression of cathelicidin mRNA and protein. Using small interfering RNA (siRNA) specific for cathelicidin, 1,25D(3)-induced cathelicidin mRNA and protein expressions were efficiently knocked down, whereas a nonspecific siRNA control had little effect. Finally, 1,25D(3)-induced antimicrobial activity was completely inhibited in the presence of siRNA against cathelicidin, instead leading to enhanced intracellular growth of mycobacteria. These data demonstrate that cathelicidin is required for the 1,25D(3)-triggered antimicrobial activity against intracellular M. tuberculosis.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2007 · The Journal of Immunology

  • No preview · Article · Jul 2007 · Cytokine
  • Lloyd S Miller · Robert L Modlin
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    ABSTRACT: Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are important pattern-recognition receptors involved in host defense against a variety of pathogenic microorganisms. Activation of TLRs leads to the production of cytokines, chemokines, antimicrobial peptides, and upregulation costimulatory and adhesion molecules involved in innate and adaptive immune responses. TLRs are expressed on a variety of cell types found in the skin, including keratinocytes and Langerhans cells in the epidermis, resident and trafficking immunesystem cells such as macrophages, dendritic cells, T and B cells, and mast cells in the dermis, endothelial cells of the skin microvasculature, and skin stromal cells such as fibroblasts and adipocytes. There have been an increasing number of reports demonstrating that TLRs play a key role in cutaneous host defense mechanisms against bacterial, fungal, and viral pathogens. In addition, TLRs have also been implicated in the pathophysiology of various inflammatory skin diseases.
    No preview · Article · May 2007 · Seminars in Immunopathology
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    Robert Modlin
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    ABSTRACT: Dr Robert Modlin was interviewed by Emma Quigley (Senior Editor, Expert Opinion) on 5th February 2007. Robert L Modlin, MD, is Professor in the Division of Dermatology and in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is also the Chief of the Division of Dermatology. He completed his undergraduate studies at Johns Hopkins University and received his medical degree at the New York University School of Medicine. Dr Modlin’s interest in leprosy began during his dermatology residency at the Los Angeles County/University of Southern California Medical Center. He has studied leprosy as a model to learn about mechanisms of host defence in humans. As such, Dr Modlin’s laboratory has made fundamental insights into T cell subsets, cytokine patterns, antigen presentation, innate immunity and antimicrobial mechanisms in the human immune response to infection. He has been awarded three patents for this research. Dr Modlin has published > 150 articles, including 12 papers in Science and Nature, 4 in Nature Medicine, received the Montagna Award for outstanding young investigator from the Society for Investigative Dermatology, a merit award from the National Institutes of Health and the Sulzberger lectureship of the American Academy of Dermatology. Dr Modlin is a member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation and the American Association of Physicians. He is the Deputy Editor for the Journal of Immunology, having served on the editorial board of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Infection and Immunity and Immunology. Dr Modlin has served on the Society for Investigative Dermatology Board of Directors.
    Preview · Article · May 2007 · Expert Opinion on Therapeutic Targets
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    ABSTRACT: Human infection with Mycobacterium leprae, an intracellular bacterium, presents as a clinical and immunological spectrum; thus leprosy provides an opportunity to investigate mechanisms of T-cell responsiveness to a microbial pathogen. Analysis of the T-cell receptor (TCR) repertoire in leprosy lesions revealed that TCR BV6(+) T cells containing a conserved CDR3 motif are over-represented in lesions from patients with the localized form of the disease. Here, we derived a T-cell clone from a leprosy lesion that expressed TCR BV6 and the conserved CDR3 sequence L-S-G. This T-cell clone produced a T helper type 1 cytokine pattern, directly lysed M. leprae-pulsed antigen-presenting cells by the granule exocytosis pathway, and expressed the antimicrobial protein granulysin. BV6(+) T cells may therefore functionally contribute to the cell-mediated immune response against M. leprae.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2007 · Immunology
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    ABSTRACT: We investigated the regulation of T-cell homing receptors in infectious disease by evaluating the cutaneous lymphocyte antigen (CLA) in human leprosy. We found that CLA-positive cells were enriched in the infectious lesions associated with restricting the growth of the pathogen Mycobacterium leprae, as assessed by the clinical course of infection. Moreover, CLA expression on T cells isolated from the peripheral blood of antigen-responsive tuberculoid leprosy patients increased in the presence of M. leprae (2.4-fold median increase; range 0.8-6.1, n = 17), but not in unresponsive lepromatous leprosy patients (1.0-fold median increase; range 0.1-2.2, n = 10; P < 0.005). Mycobacterium leprae specifically up-regulated the skin homing receptor, CLA, but not alpha(4)/beta(7), the intestinal homing receptor, which decreased on T cells of patients with tuberculoid leprosy after antigen stimulation (2.2-fold median decrease; range 1.6-3.4, n = 3). Our data indicate that CLA expression is regulated during the course of leprosy infection and suggest that T-cell responsiveness to a microbial antigen directs antigen-specific T cells to the site of infection.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2007 · Immunology

Publication Stats

29k Citations
2,825.41 Total Impact Points


  • 1986-2015
    • University of California, Los Angeles
      • • Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics
      • • Division of Dermatology
      • • Department of Medicine
      Los Ángeles, California, United States
  • 2011
    • Universität Ulm
      • Institute of Medical Microbiology and Hygiene
      Ulm, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
  • 2006
    • Howard Hughes Medical Institute
      Ashburn, Virginia, United States
  • 2004
    • University of Toronto
      • Department of Medical Biophysics
      Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 1991-2004
    • Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center
      • Department of Medicine
      Torrance, California, United States
    • University of Geneva
      Genève, Geneva, Switzerland
    • Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
      Boston, Massachusetts, United States
  • 2001-2003
    • Stanford University
      • Department of Pediatrics
      Stanford, California, United States
  • 1988-2002
    • Albert Einstein College of Medicine
      • • Department of Medicine
      • • Department of Microbiology & Immunology
      New York, New York, United States
  • 1989-2001
    • Harvard University
      Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
    • Yeshiva University
      • Department of Microbiology & Immunology
      New York City, New York, United States
  • 1999
    • The Scripps Research Institute
      لا هویا, California, United States
  • 1996
    • Brigham and Women's Hospital
      • Division of Rheumatology, Immunology, and Allergy
      Boston, MA, United States
  • 1990
    • Keck School of Medicine USC
      Los Ángeles, California, United States
  • 1983-1985
    • University of Southern California
      • Department of Pathology
      Los Ángeles, California, United States
    • University of California, San Francisco
      San Francisco, California, United States
    • McBride Orthopedic Hospital
      Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States