David Stephen Pisetsky, MD, PhD

Professor of Medicine
Professor of Immunology
Member of the Duke Cancer Institute
Member of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute
Campus mail VA Med Ctr, 508 Fulton St, Durham, NC 27705
Phone (919) 286-6835
Email address david.pisetsky@duke.edu

Studies in my laboratory concern the immunological properties of DNA as related to two main topics: 1) the induction of anti-DNA responses in systemic lupus erythematosus; and 2) the stimulation of innate immunity by bacterial DNA. These topics are closely linked since we have established novel disease models in which lupus-like illness can be induced in normal mice by bacterial DNA under conditions in which mammalian DNA is inactive. This model has been useful in elucidating mechanisms of DNA antigen drive in autoimmunity.

To pursue these studies, our laboratory conducts investigations in the following areas: 1) specificity of anti-DNA for epitopes on mammalian and bacterial DNA; 2) molecular analysis of murine mononclonal anti-DNA antibodies; 3) histopathological analyses of DNA-immunized mice; 4) in vitro analysis of proliferation, antibody production and cytokine expression in human and murine immune cells; and 5) analysis of DNA binding to cell surface molecules on B cells, T cells and macrophages. Results of these studies have allowed identification of at least two structural motifs that are immunoactive. We are also exploring the impact of chemical modifications of the DNA backbone.

In addition to work on the immunology of DNA, I am also involved in clinical trials related to new immunomodulatory agents in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis as well as serological markers of disease activity.

The areas of research for which I am known nationally are anti-DNA antibodies, systemic lupus erythematosus and immunological properties of DNA. I have written textbook chapters and reviews on all these subjects.

Education and Training

  • Resident, Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, 1974 - 1974
  • Intern, Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, 1973 - 1974
  • M.D., Yeshiva University, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, 1973
  • Ph.D., Yeshiva University, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, 1972


Pisetsky, David S., Brad H. Rovin, and Peter E. Lipsky. “New Perspectives in Rheumatology: Biomarkers as Entry Criteria for Clinical Trials of New Therapies for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: The Example of Antinuclear Antibodies and Anti-DNA.” Arthritis Rheumatol 69, no. 3 (March 2017): 487–93. https://doi.org/10.1002/art.40008.

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Shoda, Lisl Km, Christina Battista, Scott Q. Siler, David S. Pisetsky, Paul B. Watkins, and Brett A. Howell. “Mechanistic Modelling of Drug-Induced Liver Injury: Investigating the Role of Innate Immune Responses.” Gene Regul Syst Bio 11 (2017): 1177625017696074. https://doi.org/10.1177/1177625017696074.

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Mobarrez, Fariborz, Anna Vikerfors, Johanna T. Gustafsson, Iva Gunnarsson, Agneta Zickert, Anders Larsson, David S. Pisetsky, Håkan Wallén, and Elisabet Svenungsson. “Microparticles in the blood of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE): phenotypic characterization and clinical associations.” Sci Rep 6 (October 25, 2016): 36025. https://doi.org/10.1038/srep36025.

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Schett, Georg, Paul Emery, Yoshiya Tanaka, Gerd Burmester, David S. Pisetsky, Esperanza Naredo, Bruno Fautrel, and Ronald van Vollenhoven. “Tapering biologic and conventional DMARD therapy in rheumatoid arthritis: current evidence and future directions.” Ann Rheum Dis 75, no. 8 (August 2016): 1428–37. https://doi.org/10.1136/annrheumdis-2016-209201.

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Mobarrez, Fariborz, Mirna Abraham-Nordling, Katherina Aguilera-Gatica, Inger Friberg, Aleksandra Antovic, David S. Pisetsky, Gun Jörneskog, and Håkan Wallen. “The expression of microvesicles in the blood of patients with Graves' disease and its relationship to treatment.” Clin Endocrinol (Oxf) 84, no. 5 (May 2016): 729–35. https://doi.org/10.1111/cen.12872.

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