Immunology is the study of the immune system, the body’s natural defense against infection. Our team diagnoses and treats children and adults with any of the more than 140 complex conditions that together are called primary immune deficiency disorders (PIDD).

Because the immune systems of patients born with these inherited disorders are not working properly or are missing essential parts, these people are particularly vulnerable to serious infections, autoimmunity and/or certain types of cancers. Seattle Children’s Hospital is one of the few hospitals in the world where doctors both carry out cutting-edge research and provide treatment for immune deficiencies. We are the only center in the Northwest that cares specifically for pediatric and adult patients with PIDD. We also evaluate and treat PIDD patients referred from throughout the world. We offer the most current and extensive testing to identify these disorders and their causes and are at the forefront of research to find ways to identify new gene defects and to treat and cure PIDD.

Because PIDDs represent some of the best candidate disorders for treatment with hematopoietic stem cell or gene therapy, our translational research programs include modeling of novel gene and cellular therapies. Working closely with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, we also coordinate care for our patients who are undergoing hematopoietic cell transplants. In addition, we actively participate in novel clinical trials designed to develop safer and more effective nonmyeloablative stem cell transplants and to optimize immunoglobulin replacement in PIDD. Drs. Rawlings and Scharenberg co-direct the Northwest Genome Engineering Consortium, a group of interdisciplinary investigators in the Seattle area who are developing a new approach for the treatment of inherited diseases by using genetic repair in bone marrow stem cells. The Division of Immunology provides inpatient and outpatient training experience for adult and pediatric allergy/immunology fellows and co-directs the University of Washington–based allergy/immunology fellowship program. Members of the Immunology faculty also hold key international leadership positions in advocacy and research related to PIDD.

Leadership and Faculty

Team Member Spotlight

Adrian Piliponsky, PhD

Research scientist

The research in my lab focuses on sepsis – one of the most common causes of death in children with serious infections. The disorder occurs when impaired regulatory mechanisms in the body trigger widespread inflammation while attempting to eliminate infection. We are currently investigating mechanisms that can limit the magnitude of the body’s inflammatory response and stop sepsis from developing – studies that may prevent the disorder altogether or improve diagnosis and treatment.