Department of Medicine
Faculty Profiles by Division

Division of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology

Faculty Profiles

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photo Dana Ascherman, MD


Professor of Medicine

Division Chief

Margaret Jane Miller Endowed Professorship for Arthritis Research in the School of Medicine


Phone: 412-383-8734

Office: BST S723
200 Lothrop Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15261
Phone: 412-383-8734
Fax: 412-383-8864
Administrative Assistant:
Linda Sadej
Address: Biomedical Science Tower South, S711A
3500 Terrace Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15261
Phone: 412-383-8734
Fax: 412-383-8753
Education and Training
AB, Harvard University, 1987
MD, Stanford University School of Medicine, 1992
Residency, Georgetown University Medical Center, 1994
Fellowship, Georgetown University Medical Center, 1998
Research Interest
Viewed broadly, Dr. Ascherman’s research has investigated the role of cell-mediated immunity in the pathogenesis of idiopathic inflammatory myopathy, a systemic autoimmune disorder resulting in damage to muscle as well as extra-muscular tissues that include skin, joints, lung, and the vascular system. While this effort initially focused on human cells and tissue, the relative rarity of this disorder led Dr. Ascherman to develop a novel antigen-induced model replicating several cardinal features of this disease—namely, myositis and interstitial lung disease. Beyond support for the role of histidyl-tRNA synthetase (HRS=Jo-1) in human disease, this work has generated some intriguing observations regarding the ability of peptides to generate species-specific antibody responses--fueling a computational biology collaboration exploring the contribution of peptide stability to antigenicity, immunogenicity, and affinity maturation. Complementing these studies, more recent work has centered on the interaction between HRS and signaling components of the innate immune system that not only support the development of class-switched autoantibody responses, but also promote a robust myositis phenotype. Dissecting the relationship between HRS-induced innate immune activation, NF-?B-mediated transcriptional pathways, and subsequent transition to antigen driven adaptive immune responses therefore represents a major focus of ongoing work. Additional areas of investigation include biomarker development in autoimmune interstitial lung disease. Collectively, these efforts underscore an expanding basic and translational research program uniting themes of autoimmune disease mechanisms and structural immunology.
Clinical Interest
Dr. Ascherman’s clinical interests encompass a spectrum of autoimmune disorders, with a primary focus on inflammatory myopathies and associated systemic complications that include interstitial lung disease (ILD). Based on the frequent overlap between various autoimmune disorders and ILD, Dr. Ascherman has worked with Dr. Daniel Kass in the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine to initiate an interdisciplinary Autoimmune ILD Clinic.
Educational Interest
Over the last 20 years, Dr. Ascherman has dedicated considerable effort to teaching medical students, residents, and clinical fellows in clinical as well as classroom settings. These activities have included medical school course directorships, with lectures spanning a range of topics from crystalline arthropathies to the immunologic basis of systemic autoimmune diseases. In response to a more general call for translation of basic immunology to clinical medicine, Dr. Ascherman has devised and directed a literature-based, “applied immunology” tutorial geared towards residents and clinical fellow in rheumatology.
Sponsored Research/Activities
Title: Innate Immune Activation in Autoimmune Myopathy
Role: Principal Investigator
Funding Agency: National Institute of Arthritis, Muscoskel, & Skin Disease
Grant Number: R01 AR071369
Start Year: 2018
End Year: 2022