Dr. Brusko joined the senior leadership team of the UFDI in 2020 under UFDI Director, Mark Atkinson, PhD, Pediatric Medical Director, Desmond Schatz, MD, and Adult Medical Director, Kenneth Cusi, MD.
“I am excited to help lead the UFDI scientific direction to capitalize on our clinical resources and research strengths in order to facilitate the development of novel treatment strategies. Inflammation is an essential component of all disease pathologies. What we learn in immunology has the potential to then impact a wide variety of other diseases impacting human health”. – Dr. Todd Brusko.
Dr. Brusko completed his graduate training at the University of Florida College of Medicine in the Interdisciplinary Program in Biomedical Sciences. He was awarded the Graduate Fellowship for Outstanding Research Award for his work at the laboratory for Mark A. Atkinson, Ph.D. Dr. Brusko conducted his post-doctoral fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) in the laboratory of Jeffrey Bluestone, Ph.D. Dr. Brusko’s work at UCSF was supported by a prestigious Advanced Postdoctoral Fellowship and then a Career Development Award sponsored by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JRDF). This work contributed to the first clinical trial employing regulatory T-cells as a potential treatment for type 1 diabetes (T1D).
Dr. Brusko joined the University of Florida faculty in 2010 following his postdoctoral fellowship. Now, with nearly $11M in direct extramural funding as a principal investigator, Dr. Brusko’s lab is on the forefront of cellular engineering, and genotype-phenotype studies in T1D using high-dimensional, single-cell profiling methods.
The research aims of Dr. Brusko’s academic lab are centrally themed around understanding the mechanisms by which the immune system maintains a state of control, often referred to as immunological tolerance and understanding how genetic risk variants and age influence this process, as well as identifying pathway defects in individuals who develop autoimmune diseases. These studies have focused primarily on genes impacting key checkpoints in T cell activation, including T cell receptor (TCR) signaling, co-stimulation, and the IL-2 signaling pathway.
Dr. Brusko currently heads the advanced cytometry and cell sorting core for the JDRF-sponsored Network for Pancreatic Organ donors with Diabetes (nPOD) program. His laboratory is involved a number of ongoing team science initiatives including an NIH-NIAID P01 grant, NIH Director’s Initiative – Human BioMolecular Atlas Program (HuBMAP), Brehm Coalition, and the JDRF biomarker working group and autoimmunity working group.
A major effort of Dr. Brusko’s lab involves profiling the “normal” developing human immune system, in the Human Atlas of Neonatal Development and Early Life – Pancreas/Immunity (HANDEL-P/I) program and the Adaptive Immune Receptor Repertoire Sequencing (AIRRseq) program supported by The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust (HCT). In addition, as an investigator for the NIH-supported HuBMAP program, Dr. Brusko contributes to efforts to develop three-dimensional (3D) cellular maps of human immune organs (thymus, lymph nodes, and spleen) from individuals of all ages. The efforts of Brusko laboratory focusing on normal human immunity are laying the foundation for subsequent studies mapping pathogenic immune development that leads to disease, including T1D.
In addition to his academic appointment, Dr. Brusko is a founding scientific member and chief operating officer for OneVax, LLC, a biotechnology start-up located in the Sid Martin Biotechnology Research Complex in Alachua, FL. OneVax develops tolerogenic vaccines and therapies to induce immune tolerance in autoimmune diseases.