Professor of Oral Biology
College of Dentistry
Edward K. L. Chan conducts state-of-the-art studies on autoimmunity and cell biology, and develops information on the linkage of autoantibodies and cancer.
Chan’s present research continues to enhance understanding of fundamental aspects of autoimmune diseases. He is now heavily invested in the biology and application of RNA interference. Chan’s research goals include identifying and characterizing specific target antigens of human autoantibodies with a focus on understanding why autoantibodies are induced and continually produced in different disease states. He also uses human autoantibodies as unique probes to investigate the molecular and cell biology of interesting macromolecules and subcellular organelles which have become autoimmune targets. Over the years, Chan’s laboratory has been credited for the use of autoantibodies to identify novel subcellular structures, including the Cajal body, GW body, and more recently cytoplasmic rod/ring structures.
Chan’s overall strategy is that, by understanding the biology of autoantigens in health and disease states, he may be able to fully appreciate the functional and pathogenic potentials of autoantibodies. Chan’s laboratory is actively characterizing the microRNA associated protein GW182, which is a macromolecule marker of novel cytoplasmic compartments known as GW bodies (GWBs). The most common clinical diagnosis of patients with anti-GW182 antibodies is Sjögren’s syndrome, followed by neurological disease (motor and sensory neuropathy and/or ataxia) and systemic lupus erythematosus. Several novel autoantigens have been identified in GWBs and Chan focuses on their roles in the regulation of RNA interference.
Chan’s research focuses on microRNA that regulate of toll-like receptor (TLR) signaling pathways in innate immune response and their relationship to autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus. His laboratory is also active in characterizing the role of key microRNAs in oral cancer.
Chan’s work is supported by the NIAID, Lupus Research Institute, and the Andrew J. Semesco Foundation Oral Cancer Research Fund, and he has been recognized internationally as a leader in autoimmunity and cell biology. Chan has been very aggressive in the technology transfer arena, with 5 disclosures since his arrival in 2002. He also serves on key health science center committees, such as the IDP (Ph.D. program) Advisory Committee, and participates on committees and advisory boards for a variety of international professional organizations. This year, Chan has been awarded both the UF-HHMI Science for Life Distinguished Mentor Award for training undergraduates and UF Doctoral Dissertation Advisor/Mentoring Award for mentoring graduate students.