Mark R. Rigby, MD, PhD - Basic Science Research Faculty

Dr. Mark Rigby

Assistant Professor, Departments of Pediatrics and Surgery
McKelvey Scholar, Emory Transplant Center
Emory University School of Medicine
Director of Research, Critical Care Medicine
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

As an investigator at the ETC, Dr. Rigby primarily studies the immunopathogenesis and prevention of Type 1 diabetes mellitus. Type 1 diabetes mellitus is an autoimmune disease which targets the destruction of the pancreatic beta cells. The ETC is on the forefront of better understanding of mechanisms of unwanted immunity, primarily using transplant models. As the cellular mechanisms of transplant rejection and autoimmunity likely have significant overlap, progress in each of these fields helps the other. Dr. Rigby’s investigations span from studies in animal models of T1DM and islet transplantation to human investigations of T1DM.

In studies supported by the American Diabetes Association, Dr. Rigby and his team are working to understand how drugs that prevent disease dampen the effect of harmful disease-causing cells, while encouraging the growth of protective, regulatory cells.  And from a recently awarded grant from the American Society of Transplantation/Wyeth Basic Science Faculty Development Award, he will be investigating the immune barriers in islet transplantation in murine models of diabetes.

In addition, Dr. Rigby assists in the evaluation of patients receiving islet transplants for Type 1 diabetes to better understand the immune response in human islet transplantation. Dr. Rigby is the PI of a clinical trial that recently received funding from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Genentech. In the BRiTE trial (for beta cell rescue in T1DM with efalizumab), ETC and other Emory Investigators be conducting a 5 year single center randomized trial to determine if efalizumab (which interferes with T cell activation and trafficking) can stabilize, or hopefully reverse, T1DM. Through these combined basic and clinical studies, the ETC will be on the leading edge of understanding, developing and trialing therapies to reverse and cure T1DM.

In the past year, Dr. Rigby has been first/primary author of over 8 abstracts presented at international conferences, including the American Transplant Society, American Diabetes Association, Keystone Symposium on Immune Tolerance in Autoimmunity and Transplantation, and the Society of Critical Care Medicine, and authored or co-authored 8 peer reviewed manuscripts. He was a featured researcher in the American Diabetes Association “Diabetes Forecast” Magazine (Spring 2008).

Dr. Rigby also has been involved with improving pediatric organ donation and serves as the physician liaison between LifeLink of Georgia and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta/Egleston, has assisted in the development the “organ donation after cardiac death” policy at CHOA (allowing maintenance of UNOS accreditation), and has been a physician leader with the CHOA/Emory Pediatric Transplant Collaborative. Dr. Rigby is involved in many facets of outreach, having been invited to lecture on pediatric organ donation (Atlanta Organ Donation Collaborative, Ethics Grand Rounds Memorial Hospital (Savannah), Noon conference Candler Hospital (Savannah) and given community-based talks on his ETC research progress (American Diabetes Association Pinnacle Society Meeting (February) and ADA/Atlanta’s Kickoff for their annual “Step out to walk to fight diabetes” event).

Recent Publications (2007 – 2008)

  • Zahorchak AF, Kean LS, Tokita D, Turnquist HR, Abe M, Finke J, Hamby K, Rigby MR, Larsen CP, Thomson AW. Infusion of stably immature monocyte-derived dendritic cells plus CTLA4Ig modulates alloimmune reactivity in Rhesus macaques. Transplantation. 2007 Jul 27;84(2):196-206.  
  • Hamby K, Trexler A, Pearson TC, Larsen CP, Rigby MR, Kean LS. NK cells rapidly reject allogeneic bone marrow in the spleen through a perforin- and Ly49D-dependent, but NKG2D-independent mechanism. Am J Transplant.  
  • Aug;7(8):1884-96, 2007.Clark L, Preissig C, Rigby MR, Bowyer F. Endocrine issues in the pediatric intensive care unit. Pediatr Clin North Am. 2008 Jun;55(3):805-33.  
  • Hebbar, K. Rigby, MR, Felner, EI, Easley, KA, Fortenberry, JD. Neuroendocrine Axis Deficiency in Pediatric Critical Illness. PCCM In press.  
  • Preissig, CM, Hansen, I, Roerig, PL, Rigby, MR. Hyperglycemia is common in pediatric critical illness and treatment may improve survival. PCCM In Press.  
  • Patel, KN, Simon, HK, Stockwell, C, Stockwell, JA, DeGuzman, MA, Roerig, PL, Rigby, MR. Pediatric Procedural Sedation by a Dedicated Non-Anesthesiology Pediatric Sedation Service Using Propofol. Peds Emerg Med. In press.  
  • Froehlich, CD, Rigby, MR, Rosenberg ES, Ruosha L, Roerig, PL, Stockwell, JA, Ultrasound guided central venous catheter placement decreases complications and decreases placement attempts compared to the traditional landmark technique in patients in a pediatric intensive care unit. CCM In Press.