Meet a PennMedicine Researcher

Aimee S. Payne, MD, PhD

Aimee S. Payne, MD, PhD Aimee S. Payne, MD, PhD, Albert M. Kligman Associate Professor of Dermatology, is the winner of this year’s Lady Barbara Colyton Prize for Autoimmune Research. This award recognizes a PSOM faculty member who has been engaged in innovative discoveries and outstanding research in the area of autoimmune diseases. Dr. Payne’s research studies pemphigus, a severe autoimmune blistering condition which is a paradigm of a tissue-specific autoantibody-mediated disease, both potentially fatal and extremely disfiguring. Her clinical understanding of the intricacies of pemphigus, and her training as a scientist, have been applied to studies in the laboratory which have elucidated pathophysiology in ways that have suggested new approaches to targeted therapy of the disease. Dr. Payne’s team has recently described a novel method for re-engineering chimeric antigen receptor T cells for targeted immunotherapy of pemphigus. By using the pemphigus autoantigen desmoglein 3 as the extracellular domain (the “bait”) on a chimeric autoantibody receptor (CAAR), the team can genetically engineer a patient’s T cells to specifically seek out and kill pemphigus-specific B cells, while sparing the good immune cells that protect from infection. In recognition of the potential for CAAR-T therapy to induce lasting remissions of autoimmune disease without the risks of generalized immune suppression, Dr. Payne’s work was named a “Top 10” research paper of 2016 by the Clinical Research Forum.