Graduate School of Medical Sciences
A partnership with the Sloan Kettering Institute

Virginia Pascual

Virginia Pascual
The purpose of my lab is to understand the pathogenesis and to identify biomarkers and therapeutic targets for inflammatory and autoimmune diseases that start in childhood.


We are interested in understanding chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases that present in childhood and normally result from complex interactions between genes and the environment. Most of these diseases are molecularly heterogeneous, thus explaining the current lack of “one size fits all” therapeutic interventions. Our lab applies systems biology approaches to monitor the immune system of children suffering from these diseases through disease flares and remissions. Integrating laboratory and clinical data provides us with information about potentially dysregulated biological pathways in unique groups of patients. From these, we generate hypothesis that can be tested in vitro about the significance of these pathways as pathogenic players that could be targeted therapeutically and/or their value as biomarkers to assess disease activity. Our goal is to use this information towards the rational design of successful clinical trials.

Figure 1.

Dr. Pascual Figure

Current Projects:

  • Systems biology approaches to understand the pathogenesis and identify therapeutic targets in pediatric onset Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
  • Juvenile Dermatomyositis and COVID-19-related MIS-C.
  • Monitoring the immune system of infants and young children through vaccines and infections to understand early human immune development. 


Dr. Pascual obtained her MD from the Universidad Complutense and completed a residency in Pediatrics in her native Spain. She then joined the laboratory of J. Donald Capra at UT Southwestern in Dallas, where she trained in Molecular Biology and Immunology. Her initial research inspired her to pursue training in Pediatric Rheumatology, eventually becoming Director of the Pediatric Rheumatology division at the same institution. In 2004 she joined and later co-directed the Baylor Institute for Immunology Research in Dallas. In 2017 she became the inaugural Director of the Drukier Institute for Children’s Health Research at Weill Cornell Medicine. 


Studies from Dr. Pascual’s laboratory contributed to the discovery that type I interferon (IFN) and interleukin 1 (IL-1) are pathogenic players in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) and Systemic Onset Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (sJIA), respectively. Importantly, she was at the forefront of clinical trials using IL-1 blockers in sJIA, which showed remarkable clinical benefits in nearly 70% of patients. Dr. Pascual is currently the Program Director of an NIAID-funded U19 Autoimmunity Center of Excellence, a NIAMS-funded P50 Center of Research Translation, and a Lupus Research Alliance (LRA)-sponsored Global team Science Award, all of which focus on Pediatric Autoimmunity. In 2017 she received the Lupus Insight Award from the LRA; in 2018 she was elected to the Association of American Physicians, and in 2020 she obtained the Distinguished Basic/Translational Investigator Award from the American College of Rheumatology

Current Areas of Focus

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Weill Cornell Medicine Graduate School of Medical Sciences 1300 York Ave. Box 65 New York, NY 10065 Phone: (212) 746-6565 Fax: (212) 746-8906