The Thyroid Genetics Laboratory studies the immunogenetic mechanisms leading to the development of autoimmune thyroiditis and diabetes. The laboratory discovered several genetic variants that are associated with thyroid autoimmunity, including sequence variants in HLA-DR3, CD40, thyroglobulin, and FOXP3.
Current studies focus on the genetic and epigenetic mechanisms, by which these variants contribute to disease. The group is using linkage, association, deep sequencing, SNP and CNV analyses, as well as in vitro and in vivo studies using transgenic and chimeric mouse models. The lab is also analyzing genes that confer shared susceptibility to multiple autoimmune diseases focusing on joint genes for type 1 (autoimmune) diabetes and autoimmune thyroiditis. Current studies focus on the role of the CTLA-4 and FOXP3 genes in this shared susceptibility.
In addition to the genetic studies the Tomer lab is studying environmental factors triggering thyroid autoimmunity, specifically the role of hepatitis C virus and interferon alpha.