Versiti - Debra K. Newman, PhD | Versiti Blood Research Institute

Debra K. Newman, PhD

Debra K.  Debra K.  profile

Debra K. Newman, PhD

Senior Investigator

Thrombosis and Hemostasis

Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology
Department of Microbiology and Immunology
Medical College of Wisconsin

Senior Investigator
Blood Research Institute Versiti

Education and training

Doctoral Training
PhD, Marquette University, 1989

Contact Information
  • 414-937-3820
  • 414-937-3820
  • Thrombosis, Hemostasis and Vascular Biology

    Platelets are important in early wound healing, where they initially stick to damaged blood vessels and then aggregate with one another to form a platelet plug. Excessive bleeding occurs when platelet counts are low or when platelets don’t function well. Dr. Newman’s research has recently focused on the contributions of platelet abnormalities to excessive bleeding in the fetal and neonatal periods when excessive bleeding can have life-long developmental consequences. Newborns who undergo surgery for congenital heart defects experience very severe bleeding. Dr. Newman’s lab recently demonstrated that decreases in platelet count and function occur normally during heart surgery but can be corrected with platelet transfusion so that they will not complicate bleeding in newborn heart surgery patients. This research justifies administration of the right number of platelets at the right time to effectively control bleeding in this at-risk population.  Deletion of segment 11.2 on the q arm of one copy of chromosome 22 gives rise to 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome (22q11.2DS), which is commonly found in patients with congenital heart defects.  One the many genes that are deleted in 22q11.2DS is GPIBB, which encodes a component of an important platelet receptor (GPIb-IX-V). Dr. Newman’s lab demonstrated that loss of one copy of GPIBB is not associated with increased bleeding.  This finding indicates that patients with 22q11.2DS who must undergo surgery for congenital heart defects are not at increased risk for severe bleeding because of loss of one copy of GPIBB. Dr. Newman’s lab also studies Fetal/Neonatal Alloimmune Thrombocytopenia (FNAIT), which is a disorder that arises when a mother’s immune system recognizes her baby’s platelets as foreign and clears them from the baby’s circulation. Dr. Newman is currently working in collaboration with several investigators at Versiti to investigate who is at highest risk for development of FNAIT, what causes the most severe forms of the disease, when and where during pregnancy the maternal immune response to her baby’s platelets develops, and why the mechanisms that normally ensure maternal tolerance of fetal differences fail in FNAIT. This research is needed to predict who will deliver babies with severe FNAIT so that they can be treated to prevent the most severe forms of the disease and to prevent immunization of mothers who are exposed to fetal differences that can elicit a damaging maternal immune response.

    A major focus of research in Dr. Newman’s laboratory is Platelet Endothelial Cell Adhesion Molecule-1 (PECAM-1), which inhibits responses of many circulating blood cells, including platelets and T cells. T cells are immune cells that play an important role in clearing infections and eradicating tumors. Dr. Newman has discovered that PECAM-1 works with another potent T cell suppressor, Transforming Growth Factor ß (TFGß), to inhibit T cell anti-tumor responses. Her current work is dedicated to developing a better understanding of how PECAM-1 expression is regulated in T cells and of how PECAM-1 and TGFß work together to inhibit T cell responses. This research will help improve T cell-based therapies for treatment of cancer and autoimmune disease.

    NIH, R35-HL139937 (Co-Investigator), ‘Basic Investigation & Translational Applications Concerning the Cell & Molecular Biology of Blood & Vascular Cells (2018-2024)

    Guoping Fu
    Research Associate II

    Marjorie Kipp
    Research Technologist

    Thrombosis & Hemostasis
    We study the properties of blood that cause it to clot. Our findings help to treat diseases that cause blood clots or excessive bleeding.
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