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


Stearns, Nancy A., and David S. Pisetsky. “The role of monogamous bivalency and Fc interactions in the binding of anti-DNA antibodies to DNA antigen.” Clin Immunol 166–167 (May 2016): 38–47. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clim.2016.04.004.

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Stearns, Nancy A., Shuxia Zhou, Michelle Petri, Steven R. Binder, and David S. Pisetsky. “The Use of Poly-L-Lysine as a Capture Agent to Enhance the Detection of Antinuclear Antibodies by ELISA.” Plos One 11, no. 9 (2016): e0161818. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0161818.

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Wang, Jian, Hoi-Kei Lon, Shwu-Luan Lee, Gilbert J. Burckart, and David S. Pisetsky. “Oligonucleotide-Based Drug Development: Considerations for Clinical Pharmacology and Immunogenicity.” Ther Innov Regul Sci 49, no. 6 (November 2015): 861–68. https://doi.org/10.1177/2168479015592195.

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Magna, M., and D. S. Pisetsky. “The Role of Cell Death in the Pathogenesis of SLE: Is Pyroptosis the Missing Link?” Scand J Immunol 82, no. 3 (September 2015): 218–24. https://doi.org/10.1111/sji.12335.

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Friedman, Daphne Ruth, Tiffany Stewart, Eross Guadalupe, Danielle M. Brander, David S. Pisetsky, and J Brice Weinberg. “Pan-caspase peptide inhibitor to induce primary chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) cell death through a non-apoptotic and non-necroptotic mechanism.” In Journal of Clinical Oncology, 33:e13536–e13536. American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), 2015. https://doi.org/10.1200/jco.2015.33.15_suppl.e13536.

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Mobarrez, Fariborz, Carolina Sjövik, Anne Soop, Lars Hållström, Claes Frostell, David S. Pisetsky, and Håkan Wallén. “CD40L expression in plasma of volunteers following LPS administration: A comparison between assay of CD40L on platelet microvesicles and soluble CD40L.” Platelets 26, no. 5 (2015): 486–90. https://doi.org/10.3109/09537104.2014.932339.

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