Research in the Thomas Grader-Beck Lab aims to understand the pathogenesis of systemic autoimmune diseases—particularly systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and Sjögren’s syndrome—by taking a translational approach. Autoantibodies (antibodies that target self-molecules) are believed to contribute significantly to the disease process. We are studying mechanisms that may make self-structures immunogenic. We theorize that certain post-translational antigen modifications, which can occur in infections or malignant transformation, result in the expression of neoepitopes that spread autoimmunity in the proper setting. The team has combined studies that employ a number of mouse strains, certain gene-deficient mice and human biological specimens.