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Kristine Kuhn, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor of Medicine


Dr. Kristine Kuhn’s clinical and research interests are related to spondyloarthritis with a special emphasis for those with overlapping Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD). Research has shown that 30-50% of patients with spondyloarthritis will develop bowel inflammation and about 50% of patients with IBD develop disease outside of the intestines that affects their eyes, skin, and joints, which prompts consultation with a rheumatologist. Treatment options for patients with IBD-associated arthritis are extremely limited compared to what is available to those with rheumatoid arthritis. 

The overarching hypothesis of Dr. Kuhn’s research program is that specific microbe-mucosal interactions influence the generation of systemic inflammation and the autoimmune diseases spondyloarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. This pathogenic process develops through stimulation of locally-generated proteins, metabolites, or cells in the correct genetic setting. Multiple lines of evidence suggest that autoimmune disease may result from microbial-mucosal interactions. Microbial dysbiosis occurs in new onset seropositive rheumatoid arthritis and in established spondyloarthritis; however, the causal relationship between microbiota and disease is unknown.  Dr. Kuhn’s lab aims to identify these causal relationships to understand disease pathogenesis and to reveal novel treatment targets in these diseases. 

Education
1999                  B.S. Biochemistry, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Highest Distinction
 
2005                  Ph.D. Immunology, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Denver
 
2007                  M.D., University of Colorado School of Medicine, Denver

Postgraduate Training
2007 – 2009     Internship & Residency, Medicine 
                           Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Washington University, St. Louis
 
2009 – 2010    Clinical Fellow, Rheumatology   
                          Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Washington University, St. Louis
 
2010 – 2011    Chief Resident, Medicine    
                          Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Washington University, St. Louis
 
2011 – 2013    Postdoctoral Fellow, Rheumatology 
                          Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Washington University, St. Louis

2010-2011          ​  ​Instructor of Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 
​​​
2013-present           ​Assistant Professor of Medicine, Rheumatology, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, CO

2014-present ​Director, Gnotobiotic Mouse Core Facility, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, CO

 


2009-present                 ​ ​Member, American College of Rheumatology 
​​​ MD/PhD Student Recruitment Working Group for the Committee on Research (2015-2016)

​​Committee on Research (2017-2020) and Liaison to FOICS
2015-present ​Member, American Association of Immunologists
2015-present ​Member, Society for Mucosal Immunology
​​2015-present ​Member, Spondyloarthritis Research and Treatment Network (SPARTAN)
​Scientific Sub-Committee 2016-present
2016-present  ​Member, Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies (FOCIS)
​FOCIS Steering Committee​
 
 

2000-​​2007         ​ ​NIH MSTP traineeship at University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, CO
2004 ​Medical and Graduate Student Achievement Award, American College of Rheumatology
2007 ​Gregory J. Gurtner Internal Medicine Research Award, Washington University, St. Louis, MO
2012 ​Marshall J. Schiff, MD, Memorial Fellow Research Award, American College of Rheumatology
​2012-2013 ​W. M. Keck Fellow in Molecular Medicine, Washington University, St. Louis, MO
2013 ​Distinguished Fellow Award, American College of Rheumatology
2017 ​Rising Star Award, Department of Medicine, University of Colorado School of Medicine
2017 ​Webb-Warring Early Career Investigator, Boettcher Foundation
 

Work in the Kuhn Lab centers upon the hypothesis that microbiota at the intestinal epithelium influences immune responses that lead to spondyloarthritis (SpA) or rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The group is working along two lines of research:


1. Microbiome and mucosal immunity in SpA. Our most recent studies focus upon defining the role of specific microbiota in shaping local colonic epithelial function and mucosal immune responses mediated by intestinal intraepithelial lymphocytes (IELs). Expanding on this work, we are utilizing a novel transgenic mouse model in which colonoscopy-guided violet light creates a conformational protein change that switches fluorescence from green to red. In effect, cells are labeled in vivo such that microbial-driven lymphocyte trafficking can be identified and tracked. Combined with a second transgenic mouse model that spontaneously develops IBD and SpA-like disease, we are able to monitor microbiota driven lymphocyte trafficking from the intestine to joints and other extra-intestinal tissues. In parallel, we are analyzing the microbiome and mucosal leukocytes in human subjects with IBD, SpA, and healthy controls. 


2. Microbiota trigger the development of autoantibodies in RA. In collaboration with Drs. Kevin Deane, Kristen Demoruelle, and Mike Holers in Rheumatology, we are applying our tools for studying microbiome-host interactions to RA. In these studies, we focus on microbial stimulation of ACPAs.


See Dr. Kuhn's full publication list. Publications (NCBI publication list)

 

To facilitate her research and that of other investigators on the UCD-AMC campus, Dr. Kuhn has also established a germ free mouse facility on campus.​