Paul T. Fawcett, Ph.D.

Research Interests

Research efforts of the Immunology Research Laboratory focus on the study of infectious and inflammatory diseases affecting Nemours patient populations. The laboratory's approach to these investigations emphasizes the role of the immune system as both an effector/modulator and as an indicator of disease in these disorders.

Current investigations include studies of rheumatic (in collaboration with Rheumatology and Orthopaedics) and gastrointestinal inflammatory diseases (in collaboration with Gastroenterology) of idiopathic and infectious etiologies. These investigations utilize a multidisciplinary approach, which enables the laboratory to combine the medical and clinical diagnostic skills of physician collaborators with their own research and laboratory-based diagnostic capabilities.

Two infectious agents are under study as part of these investigators. They are Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, and Helicobactor pylori, the leading cause of ulcers. H. pylori is also associated with other inflammatory gastric disorders. The laboratory is also studying the role of the immune system in initiation and perpetuation of inflammatory joint and soft-tissue disease associated with both rheumatic and gastrointestinal disorders. The latter studies are focused on detecting various antibodies and cytokines using immunoassays and a cell culture system; the former is focused on identifying relevant antigenic determinants of the infectious agents and elucidating immune markers that may serve as diagnostic and prognostic indices of disease.

The laboratory is dedicated to investigations that are based upon current patient-related needs of clinical divisions. Current areas of study (gastroenterology and rheumatology) were identified in response to the need for improved ability to diagnose and formulate a prognosis for related diseases. Several gastrointestinal and rheumatic diseases are associated with profound degradation in the quality of life for affected patients. Furthermore, the mechanisms of disease induction and perpetuation for these infectious and inflammatory disorders have not yet been determined. It is in this latter area that the laboratory's research expertise can provide significant improvement in patient care.

Recent laboratory findings have resulted in the granting of a patent for a new method of diagnosing a bacterial infection. This work has also led to the development of a new assay to determine if a patient has protective immunity to Lyme disease. This assay also has been submitted for a patent.

The unique union of the clinical and research laboratories in Immunology ensures that research efforts are directly relevant to patient care for the Nemours patient population. The laboratory currently provides immunodiagnostic testing services for several medical divisions. Available tests include assays for autoantibodies and for infectious diseases. The laboratory is currently working to develop the capability to test for cell markers that could be useful diagnostically and in formulating a prognosis for several diseases.

Current Projects

Currently active investigations include studies of rheumatic and gastrointestinal inflammatory diseases of idiopathic and infectious etiologies. These investigations utilize a multidisciplinary approach which enables us to combine the medical and clinical diagnostic skills of our physician collaborators (rheumatology, orthopedics and gastroenterology) with our own research and laboratory based diagnostic capabilities.

The primary focus of our research during the preceding year involved investigations on the cellular mechanisms responsible for inflammatory joint diseases. These studies are being conducted in collaborations with the research departments CET laboratory and physicians at the Wilmington campus. We have developed a series of in-vitro culture techniques and serologic assays that enable us to examine cells and blood from patients with inflammatory joint diseases in an effort to determine the cause of this class of disease. Samples from patients with both autoimmune (idiopathic) and infectious (Lyme disease) causes of inflammatory joint disease are being studied.

Preliminary results of these investigations suggest that we may be able to distinguish different subsets of disease in these patients. If further work confirms our preliminary findings it should enable us to predict which treatment regimes are likely to be most effective for particular subsets of patients with inflammatory joint disease. This would result in a significant enhancement over the currently available clinical algorithms used to determine appropriate therapeutic interventions for these patients

Research Group

  • Kathleen M. Gibney, B.S., M.T. - Clinical Research Associate (B.S., University of Delaware)
  • Kathleen Vinette, B.S., M.T., M.S. - Research Assistant II (M.S., Ohio State University)
  • Dale Allen Calloway, B.S., M.S. - Research Assistant II (M.S., Thomas Jefferson University)
  • Megan Mills, B.S. - Research Assistant II (B.S., Kutztown University)
  • Timothy Stetson - Research Technician II
  • Denise R. Nardozzi - Clerk II

Selected Publications

Head and Senior Scientist, Immunology Research Lab

Phone: (302) 651-6776

Fax: (302) 651-6881

Email: pfawcett@nemours.org

Office: A.I. duPont Hospital for Children

Address:
Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children
Research Immunology
A/R Bldg. Rm 261
1600 Rockland Road
Wilmington, DE 19803

Education

  • B.S. - Lowell State Teachers College
  • M.S., Ph.D. - University of Massachusetts, Lowell