Aaron Weinberg, DMD, PhD
Professor, Dental Medicine-Biological Sciencesaxw47@case.edu 216.368.6729 (o) 216.368.1045 (f)
Dr. Weinberg's research focuses on innate immune responses of mucosal epithelium to bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Throughout his research career, Dr. Weinberg has combined his clinical background with cutting-edge molecular and cellular biological approaches to research oral diseases. His laboratory was instrumental in discovering host defense peptides in human oral mucosae that are both antimicrobial and immunoregulatory. Termed human beta defensins (hBDs), these epithelial cell-derived innate response elements were shown by him to have anti-HIV activity. In addition, Dr. Weinberg's laboratory is screening oral commensal bacteria that selectively induce the expression of the hBDs and other antimicrobial peptides in human epithelium to protect from microbial insult. Dr. Weinberg believes that novel AMP inducing factors could one day be used in prophylactic strategies to protect vulnerable mucosal body sites. Moreover, hBDs and/or their derivatives could potentially be sources for both novel anti-infectives and immune adjuvants. Ongoing NIH funding over the last 14 years has led to recent funding of a Program Project that he leads at CWRU investigating mucosal immune dysfunction in HIV+ individuals. Most recently, Dr. Weinberg has been collaborating with scientists in his department as well as with members of the CWRU/UH Cancer Center to investigate the involvement of specific defensins in the initiation and progression of oral cancer and other solid tumors.