Microbiology, Immunology & Molecular Genetics

Morel, Laurence, Ph.D.

Professor and Department Chair; Zachry Foundation Distinguished Chair in Microbiology and Immunology

Personal Statement:

Dr. Morel’s research program investigates the mechanisms of lupus pathogenesis using mouse models as well as patient samples, with a focus on CD4 T cells and B cells. The long-term goal of her research is to identify genes or pathways responsible for lupus susceptibility, to characterize their contribution to autoimmune immunopathology, and to translate these findings into therapeutic targets. The most recent work has explored recent work on the genetic, cellular, metabolic and microbial determinants of follicular helper T cell expansion and regulatory T cell impairment in lupus.

Dr. Morel obtained her PhD in Neurosciences from the University of Aix-Marseille (France). She trained as a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Ward Wakeland at the University of Florida in immunogenetics, where she started to work on the genetic basis of lupus in mouse models. She was appointed with a faculty position in the department of Pathology, Immunology, and Laboratory Medicine at UF in 1999, where she was a tenured professor and the Vice Chair for Research and Academic Affairs until 2022. She recently became the Chair of the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics at UT Health San Antonio in Texas.


1983, PhD in Neuroscience/ Behavioral Sciences, Universite Aix-Marseille II, France
1984-1985, Postdoc, CNRS, France
1985-1986 Foreign Research Visitor, Dept. of Entomology, University of Georgia, USA.
1991-1996. Postdoc, Dept. of Pathology Immunology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Florida.
1996-1998. Assistant Scientist, Dept. of Pathology UF.
1999-2004. Assistant Professor, Dept. of Pathology, UF.
2004-2007. Associate Professor, Dept. of Pathology, UF.
2007-2022. Mary and Ryan Whisenant Family Professor. Dept. of Pathology, UF.
2007-2017. Director of the Division of Experimental Pathology, Dept. of Pathology, UF.
2017-2022. Vice-Chair for Research and Faculty Affairs, Dept. of Pathology, UF.
2022- present. Zachry Foundation Distinguished Chair, Dept. of Microbiology, Immunology & Molecular Genetics, UTHSA.

Lab Members

Lab MemberPosition
Longhuan Ma, Ph.D.Postdoctoral Fellow
Amanda FisherLaboratory Manager
Seung-Chul Choi, Ph.D.Assistant Professor/Research
Yuk Pheel Park, Ph.D.Assistant Professor/Research
Damian JimenezResearch Assistant
Tracoyia RoachGraduate Student
Emma MaskGraduate Student
Natalie SixGraduate Student


Complete list of publications

  1. Scindia Y, Mehrad B, Morel L. Commentary: Labile iron accumulation augments T follicular helper cell differentiation. Clin. Invest. 2022, 132(9):e159472.
  2. Brown JE, Abboud G, Choi SC, Kanda N, Zeumer-Spataro L, Garrett T, Perl AE, Chervonsky A, Mandik-Nayak L, Morel L. Origin and function of tryptophan metabolites modulating CD4+ T cells in lupus-prone mice. iScience, 25(5):104241. doi: 10.1016/j.isci.2022.104241.
  3. Li W, Gong M, Park YP, Elshikha AS, Choi SC, Brown J, Kanda N, Yeh WI, Titov A, Teng X, Brusko TM, and Morel L. Lupus susceptibility gene Esrrg modulates the development and function of regulatory T cells through mitochondrial metabolism. JCI Insight, 2021 Jul 22;6(14):143540. doi: 10.1172/jci.insight.143540
  4. Li W, Elshika A, Cornaby C, Teng X, Abboud G, Brown, Zou X, Zeumer-Spataro L, Choi S-C, Fredenburg K, Major A, and Morel L. T cells expressing the lupus susceptibility allele Pbx1 enhance autoimmunity and atherosclerosis in dyslipidemic mice. JCI Insight, 2020;5(11):e138274. doi: 10.1172/jci.insight.138274
  5. Choi SC, Brown J, Gong MH, Michailidis G, Garrett T, Mohamadzadeh M, Morel L. Microbiota-associated tryptophan catabolism induces autoimmune activation in a mouse model of lupus. Sci. Trans. Med., (2020) 10.1126/scitranslmed.aax2220more.
  6. Choi SC, Titov A., Abboud, G., Seay H, Brusko T.J. Roopenian D., Salek-Ardakani S. and Morel L. Inhibition of glucose metabolism selectively targets autoreactive follicular helper T cells. Nat Commun. 2018 Oct 22;9(1):4369. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-06686-0.
  7. Yin, Y. Choi, S.C., Xu, Z., Perry, D.J., Seay, H., Croker, B.P., Sobel, E.S., Brusko, T.M., and Morel, L. Normalization of CD4+ T cell metabolism reverses lupus. Science Translational Med., 7, 274ra18 (2015). Related “Focus”: M. Mehta, N. S. Chandel, Targeting metabolism or lupus therapy. Sci. Transl. Med. 7, 274fs5 (2015).