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Autoimmunity occurs when the innate and/or adaptive immune response is activated by one’s own cells and tissues. 

Immune disease is caused when aberrantly activated inflammatory responses and the immune response causes tissue damage.  Often autoimmune diseases are chronic disabling disorders that are caused by the immune response inducing the body to attack its own organs or tissues. Over 80 autoimmune diseases have been identified.  The most common are: Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), multiple sclerosis (MS), type 1 diabetes, autoimmune thyroid disease (Graves’ disease and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, myastheria gravis, scleroderma, and rheumatoid arthritis.  These diseases are estimated to impact approximately 14-22 million people in the United States alone.  Autoimmune reactions can be triggered by genetic and/or environmental causes.

The Center for Innate Immunity and Immune Disease (CIIID) is focused on understanding how innate immune responses contribute to immune disease.  By determining how and when the innate immune system is activated both normally with infectious pathogens, and abnormally to self-tissues, CIIID researchers are learning how to control the innate immune response.  Research in this area has the great potential to be applied to new therapeutics to treat patients suffering from immune disease.