Rheumatologie und Immunologie

Rheumatic diseases are painful and disabling conditions that can even be life threatening. Most of these diseases are driven by a dysfunctional immune system attacking the joints and organs of the body. Research over the past decades has led to the development of novel therapies targeting specific aspects of the immune system. These therapies improved the life of patients with rheumatic diseases tremendously. However, they only suppress the immune system and do not cure the disease.


Assoz. Prof. Priv.-Doz. Dr.
Martin Stradner 
T: +43 316 385 81794

Unser Ziel

The goal of our research is to understand the mechanisms leading to dysfunction of the immune system and rheumatic disease. We believe identifying these mechanisms will help to ultimately cure rheumatic diseases.


Developing a humanized model of rheumatoid arthritis

  • Although invaluable for the development of new therapies, rodent models of RA have clear limitations. Importantly, the human immune system is different from that of a rodent in many respects. Alternatives to overcome these issues are required as in vitro studies of human immune cells do not reflect the complex interactions of these cells in vivo. We are developing a personalized model of RA by transferring the dysfunctional human immune system of RA patients to immune deficient mice. Thereby, we are able to test the effect of therapeutic interventions on a human immune system in vivo without putting humans at risk. Furthermore, the individual immunological characteristics of a certain RA patient and its response to possible therapies can be evaluated in our model. Our model will allow new and exciting insights into the pathogenesis of RA which may ultimately result in novel treatment or even cure of this painful disabling disease.
  • Project start 2015
  • Funded by the Skoda Grant of the Austrian Society of Internal Medicine, the Austrian Society of Rheumatology and the Medical University of Graz
  • Collaborators: Johannes Fessler, Med Uni Graz, Peter Schlenke, Med Uni Graz, Dirk Strunk, PMU Salzburg, Günter Steiner, MU Wien, Silvia Hayer, MU Wien, Ananda Goldrath, UC San Diego, USA, Cornelia Weyand, Stanford University, USA

T cell dysfunction in early Sjögren’s Syndrome

  • Primary Sjögren’s Syndrome (pSS) is a rare autoimmune disease often misdiagnosed or overlooked for years. Thus, most of our knowledge on its pathophysiology is derived from cohorts of patients with established long-standing disease. Patient symptoms, immune phenotype and glandular infiltrates at or before the onset of pSS are unknown and biomarkers for early diagnosis have not been proposed so far. Our main objective is to uncover the T cell dysregulations present at or even before the clinical onset of pSS. We propose that these early changes of the immune system lead to the pathology seen in established pSS and could present ideal targets for future therapies.
  • Project start 2020
  • Funded by the Medical University of Graz
  • Collaborators: Johannes Fessler, Med Uni Graz, Tobias Madl, Med Uni Graz, Helmut Schwinger, Med Uni Graz, Divi Cornec, University of Brest, France