Director, Child Health Institute of New Jersey
Laura Gallagher Endowed Chair of Developmental Biology and
Professor of Pediatrics, Pharmacology, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
Arnold B. Rabson is Professor of Pediatrics, Pharmacology and Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. After completing his M.D. at Brown University, Dr. Rabson moved to Harvard Medical School, where he pursued residency training in anatomic pathology at the Brigham and Women's Hospital, including pediatric pathology at Boston Children's Hospital. He then moved to the National Institutes of Health where he studied the molecular biology and pathogenesis of HIV/AIDS and cancer. His laboratory elucidated the roles of the NF-kappaB transcription factors in the regulation of HIV. Dr. Rabson moved to Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in 1990 as a Resident Member of the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine, where he continued his research on the molecular pathogenesis of human retroviral infections and also discovered roles for the NF-kappaB pathway in the pathogenesis of human lymphomas.
He was the founding leader of The Cancer Institute of New Jersey's Transcriptional Regulation and Oncogenesis Program and, in 1997, he became Associate Director of the Cancer Institute for Basic Sciences. In 2002, he founded a division of Cancer Genomics and Molecular Oncology at the Cancer Institute and he became Deputy Director of Cancer Institute in 2005. He also served as Chair of the NIH Cancer Molecular Pathobiology Study Section. Dr. Rabson was appointed Interim Director of the Child Health Institute of New Jersey in 2007 and permanent Director in 2009. Under his direction, the Child Health Institute has established a vibrant research program and recruited outstanding scientists focused in the four major research areas of inflammation, immune and infectious diseases of childhood; neurodevelopment and autism; pediatric cancers and stem cells; and childhood obesity and metabolism.
Harold L. Paz, MD, Professorship in Developmental Biology,
Professor of Pediatrics and Chief, Division of Child Health Sciences Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
Derek Sant’Angelo is the Associate Director of Basic Science at the Child Health Institute. He also holds an appointment as Professor of Pediatrics at the Child Health Institute of New Jersey and as the Division Chief of Child Health Sciences at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. He received his B.S. in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 1986 and a Ph.D. in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics from Rutgers University and Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in 1993.
Following earning his Ph.D., Dr. Sant’Angelo accepted a position as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Postdoctoral Fellow in the Section of Immunobiology at the Yale University School of Medicine. Under the guidance of Professor Charles A. Janeway, Jr., Dr. Sant’Angelo studied the interaction of the T cell antigen receptor (TCR) with MHC:peptide complexes. He also studied the requirement for TCR interactions with MHC complexes during the development of T cells in the thymus. These studies, published in fourteen papers, helped to define the fundamental role that the TCR plays in shaping an effective and comprehensive immune system.
Dr. Sant’Angelo began his independent career in the Immunology Program at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. He also held a joint appointment in Weill Graduate School of Medical Sciences of Cornell University and, later, was appointed as a faculty member in the Gerstner Sloan-Kettering Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. Here, Dr. Sant’Angelo initiated his studies aimed at uncovering the factors that define T cell effector functions. In particular he sought to uncover the genes that induced a subset of T cells, the natural killer T (NKT) cells, to take on “innate-like” characteristics. These studies led to the discovery that the transcription factor, PLZF (promyelocytic leukemia zinc finger), is the master regulator for NKT cells function. These studies also helped to introduce the PLZF-related family of transcription factors to the immunological community.
The genes that Dr. Sant’Angelo studies are proving to be key factors that define and maintain the functional identity of lymphocytes. It is now clear that understanding this gene family will have a profound impact on our understanding of the overall complexity of the immune response. Dr. Sant’Angelo has a strong interest in understanding the relationship between altered or inappropriate expression of these transcription factors and the onset of autoimmune disease. For example, his data show that aberrant expression of PLZF results in T cells taking on a highly aggressive, pro-inflammatory phenotype. Furthermore, Dr. Sant’Angelo studies how altered expression of PLZF impacts the onset of obesity and related metabolic disorders.