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Marianna M. Newkirk


Assosiate Professor 

Mailing address
1650 Cedar Avenue, Room R4.141
Montreal, Quebec
H3G 1A4

Contact Information
Office Phone: (514) 934 1934 x44587
Lab Phone:

marianna [dot] newkirk [at] mcgill [dot] ca 

Link to Pubmed 





Research interests

Autoimmune rheumatic disease

  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)

New biomarkers of RA pathogenesis

RA is the leading cause of long-term disability and is very costly to society in terms of health care costs and loss of productivity of the afflicted individuals. It is important to understand the disease process to better control it, thus allowing patients to have a better quality of life.

We have recently discovered autoantibodies to IgG that is damaged by glyoxidation in RA patients with severe disease. The levels of damaged IgG correlate with markers of inflammation in Caucasians and with high blood sugar in North American Indians with RA. Interestingly, the latter have the highest incidence of RA of any ethnic group. The autoantibodies against the damaged IgG appear to be markers of severe disease. Surprisingly, there appears to be an apparent association between these autoantibodies in patients with RA and infection with Proteus mirabilis bacteria. Proteus mirabilis is a common cause of urinary tract infection. Further studies are required to determine the basis for this association. By uncovering new biomarkers of RA not only will we gain insight into the pathogenesis of this debilitating disease but also we will be better able to target therapies more appropriately.

Autoimmune response to a cytomegalovirus (CMV) vaccine

Cytomegalovirus is a very common virus that can cause a mononucleosis-like disease. Once a person is infected he/she will carry the virus for life, although the immune system keeps it from causing any further disease. CMV infection, however, which occurs in utero is a leading cause of mental retardation and thus the current interest in an effective vaccine. We are studying the immune response to a CMV vaccine. We have found that the CMV vaccine stimulates an autoantibody response to a protein of the spliceosome in several but not all strains of mice, indicating a genetic susceptibility. This autoantibody response is similar to that seen in SLE. We have found that there is a link between CMV infections in man and this autoantibody response. Future studies will determine the genetic basis for this autoimmune response. Such studies will allow us to understand the interplay of infections and genetics in the generation of autoimmunity.


Ambassador by Appointment, the Agora Trophy
Dedicated by the Ambassadors' Club of the Société du Palais des Congrès de Montréal

Jeffrey Shiroky Award for excellence in the field of research in inflammatory arthritis
Dedicated by the Laurentian Conference of Rheumatology

Departmental affiliation

Medicine; Microbiology and Immunology; Physiology

Accepting students from

Experimental Medicine; Microbiology and Immunology; Physiology