Eileen McMahon McQuade
Associate Professor and Chair of Biology
Phone: (805) 565-6117
Office Location: Biology Annex
On maternity leave, Fall 2013
Genetics, Cell Biology, Immunology, Autoimmunity
Dr. Eileen McMahon McQuade first became interested in studying the immune system while completing her Bachelor’s of Science in marine biology at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida. There her undergraduate thesis involved sequencing immune genes from the bottlenose dolphin. At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she received her doctorate in microbiology and immunology, focusing specifically on neuroimmunology. Her dissertation explored the role of immune cell-attracting molecules, called chemokines, and their effect on immune cell subpopulations in mice with demyelinating diseases induced by toxins or genetic mutations. Dr. McQuade continued in neuroimmunology for her post-doctoral training at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois but shifted focus to the immunoregulation of autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis. There she described for the first time that an immune process known as epitope spreading, thought to primarily occur in lymph nodes actually occurs instead in the central nervous system itself and depends on the CNS-recruited dendritic cells.
After joining the Westmont faculty in the fall of 2004, Dr. McQuade has continued her research on multiple sclerosis but has also expanded to investigate the immune-mediated pathways of rheumatoid arthritis. She has discovered a novel strain of mice that develops arthritis spontaneously at about 40 days of age, teenage years in mice. She is currently characterizing its clinical and pathological similarities to human rheumatoid arthritis and is identifying the gene mutations responsible for inducing the phenotype. She teaches Genetics, Cell Biology, Immunology, Intro. to Life Science and the Seminar in Biology.