Griffith studies link between aging, autoimmune disease

SAN ANTONIO (Jan. 30, 2015) — Ann V. Griffith, Ph.D., one of the newest members of the faculty at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, is delving into why the appearance of autoimmune disease is linked with aging.

Dr. Griffith joined the Department of Microbiology and Immunology in the School of Medicine on Jan. 1 from The Scripps Research Institute-Florida. She received her Ph.D. degree from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston in 2006 in the field of immunology/carcinogenesis.

She leads research on the thymus, a primary organ of the immune system in the neck of humans that functions especially in the development of the immune system. The Griffith team recently showed that one of the primary mechanisms for inducing self-tolerance in the thymus deteriorates with age. The lab is studying the possibility that T cells with potentially self-reactive T cell receptors accumulate with age. (A T cell is a type of white blood cell that develops in the thymus. A receptor is a surface protein on a cell that recognizes other proteins.)

Her lab also studies, among many other topics, the mechanisms and consequences of age-induced thymic atrophy and thymic regeneration. The consequences of thymic atrophy include diminished vaccine response and increased susceptibility to infection. The team’s ultimate goal is to develop novel approaches to extend health span during aging.


The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, one of the country’s leading health sciences universities, ranks in the top 13 percent of academic institutions receiving National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding. The university’s schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, health professions and graduate biomedical sciences have produced more than 31,000 graduates. The $787.7 million operating budget supports eight campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. For more information on the many ways “We make lives better®,” visit

Share This Article!