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Helen Mullen, PhD

Professor, Molecular Microbiology and Immunology


Department of Internal Medicine
One Hospital Drive, MA436
Columbia, MO 65212


Dr. Mullen's research is supported by the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Veterans Affairs. She has authored over 85 research publications in peer-reviewed journals. She has served on NIH study sections and is currently serving as a member of the VA Medical Research Advisory Group.


Dr. Mullen's current research is directed towards understanding the mechanisms involved in induction and regulation of autoimmune disease. For these studies, two different murine models of autoimmune thyroiditis, an experimentally induced (EAT) model and a spontaneous model of autoimmune thyroiditis (SAT) are used. In the EAT model, EAT is induced in recipients of in vitro-activated T cells from mouse thyroglobulin (MTg)-sensitized donors. Donor cells activated with Mtg and IL-12 induced a severe form of EAT with granulomatous histopathology (G-EAT) in the recipient thyroids. (see Figure). After reaching maximal severity 21 days after cell transfer, these G-EAT lesions either resolve (heal) or progress to end-stage fibrosis by day 35-40. The major focus of the current research in the laboratory is to define the underlying mechanisms that lead to these two distinct outcomes of the autoimmune inflammatory response, with the long-term goal being to devise means by which to promote resolution and prevent or reverse fibrosis. In the SAT model, NOD.H-2h4 mice spontaneously develop thyroid lesions and anti-MTg autoantibodies. The major focus of these studies is to understand the cellular mechanisms involved in this spontaneous reactivity to self, and to use this information to devise rational therapeutic strategies for prevention and treatment of autoimmune disease.


More information on Dr. Mullen can be found here.

Research Areas of Interest

Cell biology
Child health
Confocal fluorescence microscopy
Flow cytometry
Generation of transgenic animals
Immunocytochemistry EM/LM
Microarray analysis
Receptor biology
Rheumatic disease
Women's health