Penelope Morel, MD

Penelope Morel, MD


E1055 Biomedical Science Tower
200 Lothrop Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Ph: 412-624-0343


  • Postdoc, University of Pittsburgh
  • Postdoc, Stanford University
  • Postdoc, Scripps Clinical Research Foundation
  • MD, Univ. Geneva Fac. Med.
  • BM, University of Southampton Medical School

Academic Affiliation

Professor, Department of Immunology

Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology

Member, University of Pittsburgh Arthritis Institute

Member, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute

Affiliate, Center for Vaccine Research

Member, Graduate Program in Microbiology and Immunology (PMI)

About Research

Our research is focused on the control of the T cell immune response and we are particulary interested in the factors that determine the differentiation of specific Th cell subsets, including T regulatory cells. This general area of research is being pursued in the several related projects.

Dendritic cells and the control of autoimmunity and cancer

We have identified dendritic cell subsets that protect NOD mice from diabetes development. DC therapy in this context leads to increases in the number of regulatory T cells such as Foxp3+ Treg and Th2 cells. We also observe an increase in Treg in the context of DC vaccines against cancer. We are examining how the DC can be manipulated to either enhance Treg induction in autoimmunity or induce robust anti-tumor immunity.

Mathematical modeling of Th cell differentiation.

This multidisciplinary project studies the important factors necessary to drive Treg and Th cell differentiation using a novel computer model. Predictions from the model are tested experimentally using T cells from TCR transgenic mice, analysis of signaling events and the tracking of immune responses in vivo.

Selected Publications

WF Hawse, RP Sheehan, N Miskov-Zivanov, AV Menk, LP Kane, JR Faeder and PA Morel. Cutting Edge: Differential regulation of PTEN by TCR, Akt and FoxO1 controls CD4+ T cell fate decisions. 2015. J Immunol 194:4615-9

Morel PA, Ross G. The physician scientist: balancing clinical and research duties. 2014. Nat Immunol. 15:1092-4

Morel PA, Faeder JR, Hawse WF, Miskov-Zivanov N. Modeling the T cell immune response: a fascinating challenge. 2014 J Pharmacokinet Pharmacodyn.  41:389-99.

MS Turner, K Isse, HR Turnquist and PA Morel. Low TCR signal strength induces combined expansion of Th2 and regulatory T cell populations that protect mice from the development of type 1 diabetes. 2014. Diabetologia. 57(7):1428-36

Morel PA. Dendritic cell subsets in type 1 diabetes: friend or foe? 2013. Front. Immunol. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2013.00415

N Miskov-Zivanov, MS Turner, LP Kane, PA Morel and JR Faeder. The duration of T cell stimulation is a critical determinant of cell fate and plasticity. 2013 Science Signaling; 6; ra97. doi: 10.1126/scisignal.2004217.

M Stefanovic-Racic, X Yang, MS Turner, BS Mantell, DB Stolz, TL Sumpter, IJ Sipula, N Dedousis, DK Scott, PA Morel, AW Thomson and RM O’Doherty. Dendritic cells promote macrophage infiltration and comprise a substantial proportion of obesity-associated increases in CD11c+ cells in adipose tissue and liver. 2012. Diabetes 61:2330-9

Morel PA, M Srinivas, MS Turner, P Fuschiotti, R Munshi, I Bahar, M Feili-Hariri, and ET Ahrens. Gene expression analysis of dendritic cells that prevent diabetes in NOD mice: analysis of chemokines and costimulatory molecules. 2011. J. Leuk. Biol. 90:539-550.

Zinman G, R Brower-Sinning, CH. Emeche, J Ernst, GTW Huang, S Mahony, AJ Myers, DM O’Dee, JL Flynn, GJ Nau, TM Ross, RD Salter, PV Benos, Z Bar Joseph and PA Morel. Large Scale Comparison of Innate Responses to Viral and Bacterial Pathogens in Mouse and Macaque. 2011.  PLoS ONE 6(7):e22401

View Complete Publications Listing

Research Interests

  • Dendritic cells and the control of autoimmunity and cancer
  • Mathematical modeling of Th cell differentiation.