The Centers

Our Center Without Walls (CWW) program has provided support that has permitted the medical community to link together multidisciplinary scientific programs and expertise across the country to advance the understanding of the cause of MS and to develop new treatments. The Center is a break-through success because of the vision, insight and flexibility of these extraordinary doctors. The Center’s theme is simple; communication – doctors working together toward a mutual goal. When this goal is reached, all will share in the victory.  The Center’s network of the top MS institutions that have established leading, innovative research programs presently include UCSF, UCLA, Harvard, Yale, USC, Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins and Oregon Health Sciences University.

Semi-annual scientific symposiums provide an open forum for discussion and presentation of ground-breaking ideas and research data. During these meetings, thirty plus key investigators share their latest research progress, and guest speakers are often invited to share their on-going work with the CWW group. The specific scientific accomplishments of individual Centers are featured as highlights in our annual Newsletter.

View our most recent Grant Recipients.

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

Headshot of Nancy L. Sicotte

Nancy L. Sicotte, M.D.

Harvard Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Howard Weiner, M.D.

Johns Hopkins

Peter Calabresi, M.D.

Oregon Health Sciences University

Vijayshree Yadav, M.D.

University of California, Los Angeles

Rhonda Voskuhl, M.D.

University of California, San Francisco

Emmanuelle Waubant, M.D.

University of Southern California

Lilyana Amezcua, M.D.

Yale University

David Hafler, M.D.

Shop Erase MS Today

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center - Nancy L. Sicotte, M.D.

Director, Multiple Sclerosis Program
Director, Neurology Residency Training Program
Vice Chair for Education Department of Neurology

Nancy L. Sicotte, MD is professor and vice chair for education in the department of Neurology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. She is the Director of the Multiple Sclerosis Program and founding Director of the Neurology Residency Training Program. She is also the site director for the third-year UCLA medical student neurology clerkship rotation. Dr. Sicotte graduated with honors from Brown University with a BS in Psychology. She earned her medical degree from University of California Irvine School of Medicine where she graduated first in her class. She completed an internship in internal medicine, residency in neurology and fellowship in neuroimaging at UCLA Medical Center and has been a member of the faculty since 1999.

Since joining the department of neurology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in 2010, Dr. Sicotte has developed an integrated multiple sclerosis program that includes patient care, education and research. Her research focuses on the use of advanced structural and functional imaging to study MS disease progression including cognitive impairment and depression. She is a founding member of the North American Imaging in MS (NAIMS) Cooperative, which utilizes state of the art imaging approaches across multiple centers in the US and Canada to develop reliable imaging markers of disease progression in MS. She has received funding from the National Institutes of Health, The National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the Department of Defense.

Dr. Sicotte is a fellow of the American Academy of Neurology, and a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Society and Consortium of MS Centers. She received the Harry Weaver Neuroscience Scholar Award of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in 2001. She currently serves as the Chair of Research Advisory Committee C of the National MS Society and is a member of the local chapter board of directors. She has received numerous awards including Best Doctors in America and UC Irvine Medical School alumni awards for excellence in academics and clinical medicine. Most recently Dr. Sicotte received the 2016 Cedars-Sinai Medical Center’s “Golden Apple” for excellence in graduate medical education. She has been a member of the volunteer faculty at the Venice Family Clinic since 1998.

Harvard Brigham and Women’s Hospital - Dr. Howard L. Weiner

Robert L. Kroc Professor of Neurology at the Harvard Medical School
Director and Founder of the Partners Multiple Sclerosis Center
Co-Director of the Center for Neurologic Diseases at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital
Established the Partners Multiple Sclerosis Center at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in 2000

Howard L. Weiner is the Robert L. Kroc Professor of Neurology at the Harvard Medical School, Director and Founder of the Partners MS Center and Co-Director of the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston. The Partners MS Center is the first integrated MS Center that combines clinical care, MRI imaging and immune monitoring to the MS patient as part of the 2000 patient CLIMB cohort study. He has pioneered immunotherapy in MS and has investigated immune mechanisms in nervous system diseases including MS, Alzheimer’s Disease, ALS, stroke and brain tumors. He has also pioneered the investigation of the mucosal immune system for the treatment of autoimmune and other diseases and the use of anti-CD3 to induce regulatory T cells for the treatment of these diseases. As part of his interest in the mucosal immune system, he is investigating the gut microbiome in MS. He is the author of the book CURING MS and the award winning film documentary WHAT IS LIFE? THE MOVIE. In 2004, Harvard Medical School honored him with the establishment of the Howard L. Weiner Professorship of Neurologic Diseases. Dr. Weiner is the 2007 recipient of the John Dystel Prize for MS Research and the Koetser Memorial Prize for Brain Research. In 2012 he received the NIH Director’s Transformative Research Award for investigating the innate immune system in Alzheimer’s disease.

 

>> Visit Brigham and Women’s Hospital MS Website

Johns Hopkins – Dr. Peter Calabresi M.D.

Professor of Neurology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Director of the Johns Hopkins Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Center
Director of the Division of Neuroimmunology

Peter A. Calabresi, MD is a Professor of Neurology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Director of the Johns Hopkins Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Center and the Division of Neuroimmunology and Neuroinfectious. He attended Yale College and Brown Medical School, and trained in Neurology at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, NY and Neuroimmunology at the NIH in Bethesda, Md.

As director of the MS Center Diseases at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Calabresi is the principal investigator on several clinical trials. He has designed and directed several clinical trials investigating combination drug therapies in MS and is on the advisory board for three national multi-center clinical trials.

Dr. Calabresi also mentors trainees and also oversees translational laboratory research projects within the Division. His specific laboratory research interest lies in understanding how to more specifically target the disease causing effector memory T cells in MS without compromising healthy immune responses. Dr. Calabresi is also the recipient of a new five-year National MS Society collaborative center grant to study mechanisms to promote remyelination in MS.

 

>> Visit Johns Hopkins MS Website

 

Oregon Health & Science University - Vijayshree Yadav, M.D.

Dr. Yadav is a Clinician-Scientist, with joint appointments as a Professor of Neurology at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) and an active Veterans Affairs Rehabilitation Research and Development (RR&D) and Clinical Science Research and Development Service (CSR&D) Merit Grant Awardee at the Veterans Affairs Portland Health Care Services (VAPORHCS). She also serves as the Director of the OHSU Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Center, a Staff Neurologist at the VAPORHCS and an Assistant Director of Clinical Care at the MS Center of Excellence-West (MSCoE) at the VAPORHCS. Presently as a neurologist/neuroimmunologist, she sees MS and complex Central Nervous System Neuroimmunological patients at both the OHSU as well as Portland VA MS centers. Dr. Yadav also serves as the Fellowship Training Director of the Joint MS and Neuroimmunology program at OHSU and Portland VA Medical Center (VAMC).

Her clinical training has included Neurology residency (completion, 2001) and thereafter post-doctoral fellowship in Neuroimmunology and MS from Portland VAMC [Research Enhancement Award Program] and OHSU (completion, 2004). She additionally obtained Masters in Clinical Research degree in 2008 and has served as the Principal Investigator for several of MS Center clinical studies since 2001. Currently, as part of the VA RR&D Merit Award, she is examining the role of Vascular Disease Risk Factors on brain metabolism and blood in people and Veterans with MS using advanced 7T brain imaging techniques. She is also working on a VA CSR&D funded study evaluating role of an oral antioxidant called MitoQ on fatigue in MS. She also successfully designed, completed and published a novel study evaluating role of low-fat diet in people with relapsing-remitting MS that showed significant improvement in fatigue (Yadav et al 2016). Additionally, she has served successfully as the PI or co-PI for several studies that have been funded by National Institute of Health, Department of Veterans Affairs, Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute, National MS Society, Private Foundations and Pharmaceutical Companies.

Dr. Yadav’s interest and research in Complementary and Alternative (CAM) therapies for MS has been recognized nationally and internationally. She served as the lead author describing Clinical Practice Guidelines for Neurologists developed by the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) Therapeutics and Technology Committee on the use of CAM therapies in MS (Yadav et al 2014). With this interest she has led to conduct several groundbreaking studies such as evaluating role of vascular comorbidities, anti-oxidants including lipoic acid and diet in MS. She has more than 40 peer-reviewed publications since 2005, have written several reviews about current issues in clinical practice MS and have authored several book chapters on MS.

UCLA - Rhonda Voskuhl, M.D.

Professor, Dept. of Neurology, University of California, Los Angeles
Director, UCLA Multiple Sclerosis Program
Jack H. Skirball Chair for Multiple Sclerosis Research

Rhonda Voskuhl, MD, is the Director of the Multiple Sclerosis Program at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). She is a Professor of Neurology and holds the Jack H. Skirball Chair in MS Research. Dr. Voskuhl uses cell-specific and region-specific genome wide expression analyses in the brain to find new targets for disability-specific treatments in MS, and she investigates why females are more susceptible to MS while men have worse disability progression. She attained her MD from Vanderbilt University and did neurology residency at UT Southwestern and fellowship at the National Institutes of Health. She recently received the Berlin Institute of Health Excellence Award for Sex and Gender Aspects in Health Research in 2018 and the Kenneth P. Johnson Memorial Lecturer award from the Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in MS (ACTRIMS) in 2019. The Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Program at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) is focused on “bedside to bench to bedside” research, medical care from five MS physicians
and comprehensive care through the Marilyn Hilton Achievement Center, as well as education of the next generation of MS doctors. Leveraging UCLA’s strength in neuroscience with the six neuroscience buildings and over 550 neuroscience faculty, the MS program is focused on discovering new treatments in MS that repair disabilities. This is done though cutting edge neurogenetics and neuroimaging. The “bedside to bench to bedside” approach starts with clinical observations in patients, mechanisms are determined at the laboratory bench, and new insights are translated into novel clinical trials for patients.

 

UCLA Multiple Sclerosis Program & Research

 

UCSF - Emmanuelle Waubant, M.D.

Professor of Neurology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)
Race to Erase MS Medical Director since 2001

Emmanuelle L. Waubant, MD, PhD, is currently Professor of Neurology and Pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). She directs the Regional Pediatric MS Center at UCSF. Dr. Waubant has also served as the Medical Director for the Race to Erase MS since 2001.

Dr. Waubant received her medical degree at the University of Lille, France. She completed her residency in neurology and served two years as junior faculty in the Neurology Department of Toulouse, Purpan University, France. She continued her training as a neuroimmunology fellow at UCSF, focusing on enzymes and their inhibitors that regulate the migration of immune cells to the brain. Dr. Waubant later returned at the UCSF MS Center as a clinical research fellow. During that 3-year period, she applied her basic science findings to the study of MS in humans. She has been a faculty in the department of Neurology at UCSF since September 2001, seeing patients in clinic and leading clinical research projects. She is the lead investigator for several clinical trials of promising agents for MS that she has designed including a recent study of neuroprotection in early MS. She also directs several translational research projects. As such, she is the recipient of a large NIH grant to study environmental and genetic risk factors in pediatric MS in the US. She is also the recipient of a National MS Society grant to study microbiomes in pediatric MS and how germs may relate to MS onset and course. Finally, she mentors medical students and fellows on various clinical and research aspects of MS, thereby training the next generation of physicians and researchers.

Dr. Waubant is the Chair of the scientific program of the Americas’ Committee on Treatment and Research on MS (ACTRIMS) and is chairing the US Pediatric MS Network Steering Committee. She is also a member of the International Pediatric MS Study Group Steering Committee. She serves on the advisory board of the National MS Society’s Northern California Chapter.

University of Southern California - Lilyana Amezcua, M.D.

Dr. Amezcua is an Associate Professor of Neurology. She received her Bachelor of Science degree from University of California Irvine in Irvine, California, her medical degree from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, followed by neurology residency and clinical fellowship in multiple sclerosis at the University of Southern California (USC) under the tutelage of Leslie Weiner, MD and a NMSS multiple sclerosis clinical fellowship award. She received her Master of Science degree in clinical, biomedical, and translational science from USC, Preventive Medicine, under a Clinical Translational Science Institute NIH KL2 award under tutelage of Annette Langer-Gould, MD, and PhD. She serves as principal investigator on multiple clinical projects and her research interests includes defining racial/ethnic disparities and modifiable (environmental and sociocultural) from non-modifiable genetic factors involved in disease severity and progression. She also serves as council to several boards such as the NMSS multicultural advisory board, MS Minority Research Engagement Partnership Network, and the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America. She is active within her community and lectures both in English and Spanish and was recognized for her dedication in 2015 with an induction into the NMSS Health Professionals Hall of Fame.

Yale University - David Hafler, M.D.

Gilbert H. Glaser Professor and Chairman of the Department of Neurology at Yale
Neurologist-in-Chief of the Yale-New Haven Hospital
Founding Associated Member of the Broad Institute at MIT
Founding Member of the International MS Genetic Consortium

Dr. Hafler is the Gilbert H. Glaser Professor and Chairman Department of Neurology, Yale School of Medicine and is the Neurologist-in-Chief of the Yale-New Haven Hospital. He graduated magna cum laude in 1974 from Emory University with combined B.S. and M.Sc. degrees in biochemistry, and the University of Miami School of Medicine in 1978. He then completed his internship in internal medicine at Johns Hopkins followed by a neurology residency at Cornell Medical Center-New York Hospital in New York.

Dr. Hafler received training in immunology at the Rockefeller University then at Harvard where he joined the faculty in 1984 where he was the incumbent of the Breakstone Professorship of Neurology at Harvard, an Executive Director of the Program in Immunology at Harvard Medical School and on the faculty of the Harvard-MIT Health Science and Technology program. He was a founding Associated Member of the Broad Institute at MIT. In 2009 he move to Yale as the Chair of the Department of Neurology.

Dr. Hafler is a clinical scientist with a research interest in understanding the mechanism of multiple sclerosis with over 300 publications in the field of MS, autoimmunity and immunology. His laboratory has defined immunodominant epitopes of autoantigens, and has developed new technologies to measure both functionality and frequency of autoreactive T cells. More recently, Dr. Hafler has focused on broadly characterizing the molecular pathogenesis of the disease, both at the DNA, mRNA, and proteomic level. Dr. Hafler is a founding member of the International MS Genetic Consortium, a group recently formed to define the genetic causes of MS including scientists from University of Cambridge and University of California, San Francisco.

Dr. Hafler has been elected to membership in the American Society of Clinical Investigation, The American Neurological Association, the Alpha Omega Society, and was a Harvey Weaver Scholar of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. He is currently a member of the editorial boards for Journal of Clinical Investigation and the Journal of Experimental Medicine, and is co-founder of the Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies. He received the 1st National Multiple Sclerosis five year Collaborative Center Award for tackling the MS genetic effort. Hafler leads the NIH Autoimmunity Prevention Center Grant at Yale, and is a Jacob Javits Merit Award Recipient from the NIH. He has won many awards including last year’s Dystel Prize for MS research from the American Academy of Neurology and National MS Society.