Andrea Loewendorf PhD
Research Scientist, Immunology
Born and raised in cold war Berlin (West Germany), Dr. Loewendorf went to university in a small town in the former East Germany after the wall came down (1989). Her PhD thesis on immunomodulation by herpes viruses was followed by post-doc work at La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology in San Diego where she studied the impact of herpes virus infection on the adaptive immune system in mice. After a short interval working on a stem cell project in Loma Linda, Dr. Loewendorf switched gears and focused on more applied research at UCLA where she did foundational work on the immune basis of healthy pregnancy and those affected by pre-eclampsia, a common disease of pregnancy.
The immune regulation of normal and complicated pregnancies continues to be a focus of Dr. Loewendorf and a large part of that research is conducted using peripheral blood samples from pregnant women. One of the exciting new approaches Dr. Loewendorf established is a non-invasive method of sampling the unique microenvironment located at the site where the maternal and fetal tissues meet, the uteroplacental interface. This method allows for comparison of local with peripheral immune cells. The unique microenvironment at the uteroplacental interface is in direct contact with the placenta and our understanding of how a mother tolerates (does not reject) an immunologic foreigner, the fetus (placenta), is still very limited. Better understanding of this unique relationship will be necessary to create treatments for those pregnancies where this tolerance is incomplete such as in preeclampsia. While there is very little we can do to help a preeclamptic woman today, this work will ensure that we can provide better care when those little girls born today become mothers in the future.
The hallmark of HMRI is its collaborative environment where patient care and patient participation in studies directly interfaces with the laboratory bench scientist such as Dr. Loewendorf. Immunology and inflammation are at the heart of all diseases HMRI studies, from Alzheimer’s to migraine, artherosclerosis, and cancer. Dr. Loewendorf’s goal is to add another point of view to these existing studies and interrogate the same patient pool for changes in the immune system that will inform our understanding of underlying disease mechanisms.