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Digging deeper into autoimmune diseases to develop new treatments

Professor Éric Boilard is looking deep into our cells to improve diagnosis of diseases that attack our immune system, find effective treatments, and provide better quality of life for patients.

Project architects

Éric Boilard, PhD

Full Professor at the Department of Microbiology-Infectiology and Immunology, Faculty of Medicine

Researcher on infectious and immune diseases at CHU de Québec–Université Laval Research Centre


Autoimmune disease research at CHU de Québec–Université Laval Research Centre

The research team includes a number of regular members, postdoctoral fellows, research professionals, and graduate students.

ARThrite research centre, co-led by Dr. Paul R. Fortin

The research team is composed of about 20 researchers and their teams and works to better understand and treat arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus.

Refining lupus diagnosis for better treatment

In his lab, Éric Boilard develops tools to detect and diagnose autoimmune diseases like lupus. It’s a complex disease that’s difficult to diagnose and has thousands of symptoms. It attacks various parts of the body, causing chronic inflammation. Professor Boilard and his team have developed a test to better categorize different forms of the disease. It makes diagnosis more accurate, provides better predictions about symptoms, and offers a promising avenue for developing successful treatments and medications.

What our microbiome says about inflammatory diseases

Éric Boilard and his team’s research has uncovered a correlation between the microbiome and autoimmune diseases like arthritis. How can the activity of gut microbiota affect inflammatory diseases, you ask? A protein found naturally in the intestine forms molecules that exacerbate inflammatory diseases. The finding was first observed in mice and opens a new door in the search for ways to inhibit inflammation and reduce symptoms. These hypotheses will be tested on arthritis patients to better target treatments.

Reinventing the role of blood platelets

It’s well known that Blood platelets circulate in the blood so it can form clots and heal wounds. Éric Boilard’s research team recently discovered that they are also involved in immunity and immune system function. The team specifically investigated the role of receptors, which recognize immune complexes (the immune responses that protect our bodies), in autoimmune diseases like arthritis. By blocking these inflammation-causing receptors, it may be possible to improve patient outcomes while allowing platelets to continue to play their important role.

The study of antibodies that cling to mitochondria (the cellular version of a power station), shows how the immune system responds to their presence in blood.

Lupus can have a vast array of symptoms and Professor Boilard is looking for answers to improve patient outcomes.

Professor Boilard’s research centers around blood platelets, which seem to have more than one function and play an indeterminate role in immunity. 

Intestinal microbiota includes microorganisms like bacteria that affect our health and immune system. 

What’s next

Éric Boilard and his team will continue their research on autoimmune diseases in the coming years to further develop knowledge. In the wake of encouraging preliminary results, the team will focus on new research projects to study platelet-producing megakaryocyte cells in lupus patients. Professor Boilard will also investigate the possibility of developing a drug that mimics the effects of a molecule recently shown to control inflammation in humans. Basic research is key for gaining new insights and putting theory into practice. The discoveries made by Éric Boilard’s research teams give patients with autoimmune diseases hope that new treatments and drugs could emerge soon.

Université Laval au coeur de nos vies


Learn more about Éric Boilard’s research and his important findings on the role of blood platelets and gut microbiota in autoimmune diseases in his interview with Valérie Gaudreau, editor-in-chief at newspaper Le Soleil.

ULaval Nouvelles article

Find out all about Éric Boilard’s career trajectory, from post-doctoral studies in France and the U.S., to his work as a professor and researcher at the Faculty of Medicine and the CHU de Québec–Université Laval Research Centre.

Éric Boilard

Learn more about Professor Boilard.


Graduate programs in microbiology and immunology

See our programs.


Discovery of the mitochondria’s role in lupus (in French only)

Read the article.


Arthritis and microbiota (in French only)

Read the article.


New findings on blood platelets (in French only)

Learn more.


Platelets’ latest role (in French only)

Read the article.


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