Kofi Mensah


  • 2009 - Co-winner - Melville A. Hare Research Award for the best Ph.D. thesis in Microbiology and Immunology


Portrait of Kofi MensahIn 2004, Kofi Mensah matriculated to the medical scientist training program for the MD and PhD degrees. In the summer of 2006, he began researching under the direction of Dr. Edward M. Schwarz and Dr. Christopher T. Ritchlin in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. He earned the Master of Science degree in 2008. He has written and presented several abstracts at the American College of Physicians Annual Session, American College of Rheumatology Scientific Meeting, American Society for Clinical Investigation/American Association of Physicians Joint Meeting, and National Predoctoral Clinical Research Training Program Meeting. His abstract and poster won First Place out of over 1,500 submissions in the basic research category at the 2006 American College of Physicians National Medical Student Abstract Competition. During his PhD training, he served as the IMV Cluster Representative and Treasurer for the Graduate Student Society, Institutional Representative and Public Relations Co-Chairperson for the American Physician Scientists Association, and Admissions Committee Co-Chairperson for the MD-PhD Student Council. He has also mentored high school, college, medical, and graduate rotation students in the laboratory.

Research Description

The research originates from a clinical observation that inflammatory arthritis in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) tends to be non-erosive in contrast to the erosive rheumatoid and psoriatic forms of arthritis (RA and PsA). Previous research shows that interferon-alpha (IFN-a), a cytokine, is thought to contribute significantly to SLE disease development. In RA and PsA, bone-eroding osteoclasts (OC) are central to the disease process, while antigen-presenting myeloid dendritic cells (mDC) are central to SLE pathology. Both OC and mDC are derived from the same progenitor cell. The observation that TNF can increase the proportion of cells capable of forming bone-eroding osteoclasts and the observation that IFN-a increases the formation of mDC led to the hypothesis of this research project which states that the non-erosive nature of inflammatory arthritis in SLE is the result of decreased OC formation because the myeloid common progenitor cell is biased by IFN-a to develop into mDC. We further believe that the potential for developing erosive arthritis can be predicted by studying a biomarker that will indicate if the common progenitor will follow the OC or mDC differentiation program. The candidate biomarker we study is dendritic-cell specific transmembrane protein (DC-STAMP). This protein is found in the common progenitor, OC, and mDC. Our results show differences in DC-STAMP in OC and mDC differentiation as well as following treatment of their common progenitor cell with IFN-a.

Articles Published

  1. Mensah KA, Mathian A, Ma L, Xing L, Ritchlin CT, Schwarz EM. Mediation of nonerosive arthritis in a mouse model of lupus by interferon-alpha-stimulated monocyte differentiation that is nonpermissive of osteoclastogenesis. Arthritis Rheum. 2010 Apr;62(4):1127-37.
  2. Chiu YG, Shao T, Feng C, Mensah KA, Thullen M, Schwarz EM, Ritchlin CT. CD16 (FcRgammaIII) as a potential marker of osteoclast precursors in psoriatic arthritis. Arthritis Res Ther. 2010;12(1):R14. Epub 2010 Jan 26.
  3. Mensah KA, Ritchlin CT, Schwarz EM. RANKL induces heterogeneous DC-STAMP(lo) and DC-STAMP(hi) osteoclast precursors of which the DC-STAMP(lo) precursors are the master fusogens. J Cell Physiol. 2010 Apr;223(1):76-83.
  4. Mensah KA, Li J, Schwarz EM. The emerging field of osteoimmunology. Immunol Res. 2009 Jan 30. [Epub ahead of print]
  5. Mensah KA, Schwarz EM, Ritchlin CT. Altered bone remodeling in psoriatic arthritis. Curr Rheumatol Rep. 2008 Aug;10(4):311-7. Review.
  6. Mensah KA, Forster CF. An examination of the effects of detergents on anaerobic digestion. Bioresour Technol. 2003 Nov;90(2):133-8.

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