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Assistant Professor, Division of Nephrology and Hypertension

Specialty Areas

ANCA; autoimmunity; glomerulonephritis; nephrotic syndrome; T cells; myeloid-derived suppressor cells

Education and Experience

BS: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2007
Post-baccalaureate Intramural Research Training Awardee: National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, 2007-2009
PhD: Molecular and Cellular Pathology, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2013
Research Instructor: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2013-2016
Assistant Professor: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2016-present

Research Interests

Meghan Free’s research focuses on the role of CD4+ T cells in two different glomerular diseases. One focus is detecting and understanding autoreactive T cells in anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic autoantibody (ANCA) vasculitis. Alongside these studies, she is investigating altered regulation of T cells in patients, examining both defective regulatory T cells and the role of myeloid-derived suppressor cells. These studies provide insight into potential causes and predictors of relapse from an immunological perspective.

Additional studies are aimed to understand the immunopathogenesis of minimal change disease (MCD), the most frequent cause of nephrotic syndrome in children.

Selected Bibliography

McInnis EA, Badhwar AK, Muthigi A, Lardinois OM, Allred SC, Yang J, Free ME, Jennette JC, Preston GA, Falk RJ, Ciavatta D. Dysregulation of Autoantigen Genes in ANCA-Associated Vasculitis Involves Alternative Transcripts and New Protein Synthesis. J Am Soc Nephrol. 2014 Jul 24. pii: ASN.2013101092. [Epub ahead of print] PMID:25060059

Free ME, Bunch DO, McGregor JA, Jones BE, Berg EA, Hogan SL, Hu Y, Preston GA, Jennette JC, Falk RJ, Su MA. ANCA Disease Patients Have Defective Treg Function Exacerbated by Presence of a Suppression-Resistant Effector Population. Arthritis Rheum. 2013 Jul;65(7):1922-33. doi: 10.1002/art.37959.

Nakano H, Free ME, Whitehead GS, Maruoka S, Wilson RH, Nakano K, Cook DN. Pulmonary CD103+ dendritic cells prime Th2 responses to inhaled allergens. Mucosal Immunology. 2012 Jan;5(1):53-65. Epub 2011 Oct 19.

Hollingsworth JW, Free ME, Li Z, Andrews LN, Nakano H, Cook DN. Ozone activates pulmonary dendritic cells and promotes allergic sensitization by a TLR-4 dependent mechanism. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2010 May;125(5):1167-70. Epub 2010 Apr 15.

Wilson RH, Whitehead GS, Nakano H, Free ME, Kolls JK, Cook DN. Allergic sensitization through the airway primes Th17-dependent neutrophilia and airway hyperresponsiveness. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2009 Oct 15;180(8):720-30. Epub 2009 Aug 6.

Fedoriw Y, Free ME, Rollins-Raval MA. Peripheral blood regulatory T cell monitoring after solid organ transplantation. International Clinical Cytometry Society Newsletter. 2015 April.

Free ME, Su MA. Reply to Letters to the Editor: Dysregulation of regulatory T-cells in ANCA-associated vasculitis. Arthritis Rheum. 2013 Dec;65(12):3316-8. doi: 10.1002/art.38211

Free ME, Ciavatta DJ, Falk RJ. How antigens influence the disease: An immunologist point of view. 16thInternational Vasculitis and ANCA Workshop. April 2013. Presse Med. 2013 Apr;42(4 Pt 2):577-9. doi: 10.1016/j.lpm.2013.01.026. Epub 2013 Feb 28.

Free ME, Falk RJ. IL-17A in experimental glomerulonephritis: Where does it come from? J Am Soc Nephrol. 2010 Jun;21(6):885-6. Epub 2010 May 13.