ScleroLab (John Varga Lab)

Our team focues on defining the cellular and molecular mechanisms and genetic factors of fibrosis associated with scleroderma.

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Learn more about the ScleroLab's work and impact.


Explore recent publications from the lab.


Get to know the ScleroLab team.

John Varga, MD
Principal Investigator

Frederick G. L. Huetwell Research Professor of Rheumatology
Section Head and Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Rheumatology
Professor, Department of Dermatology
Associate Director, Scleroderma Program

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Swati Bhattacharyya, PhD

Michigan Medicine

1150 W. Medical Center Drive
4524 MSRB I
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Phone: 734-936-5566

Email: [email protected]

Patient Inquiries

Please visit the Scleroderma Program section on to learn about scleroderma and how to make an appointment at our clinic.

Current Research
In the ScleroLab

The ScleroLab investigates systemic sclerosis (SSc), a progressive rheumatic disease that damages the skin, lungs, blood vessels, and other organs, and is associated with substantial mortality. The hallmarks of SSc are autoimmunity, vascular damage and dysrepair, metabolic changes, and fibrosis leading to organ failure. Synchronous fibrosis in multiple organs is a defining unique feature of SSc distinguishing it from other rheumatic and autoimmune conditions. Basic and translational research in the ScleroLab is seamlessly integrated with clinical research including observational studies, drug discovery, biomarker identification, and human clinical trials in the Michigan Medicine Scleroderma Program, one of the nation’s preeminent scleroderma programs.

By analyzing tissue biopsies, cells, blood, RNA, and genetic material from SSc patients and healthy controls, we identify molecular changes associated with specific disease phenotypes. We deploy already existing drugs or novel compounds to determine their impact on disease processes in preclinical in vivo and ex vivo models, as well as in early-stage human clinical trials. We partner with a large team of intramural and extramural academic and industry collaborators. The five hallmarks of our research are:

• Disease focus
• Multidisciplinary
• Integration at a systems-level
• Application of advanced discovery technologies
• Rapid translation of findings to the clinic

This comprehensive research pipeline distinguishes our lab and positions the Michigan Medicine Scleroderma Program to be a global leader in advancing the understanding and treatment for this devastating disease.

Michigan Medicine Scleroderma Program
Illustration of a microscope
Health Lab
Hippo signaling pathway gives new insight into systemic sclerosis
Study focuses on Hippo signaling pathway as critical link between fibrosis, vascular dysfunction, and sex bias in systemic sclerosis
Illustration of hand and enzymes that affect scleroderma patients
Health Lab
Novel antibody targets CD38 enzyme to treat systemic sclerosis
New study has identified an enzyme contributing to systemic sclerosis.
Health Lab
Targeting TAK1 protein to treat systemic sclerosis
Researchers at the University of Michigan Health System have identified a protein that may be a new target for treatment of systemic sclerosis.