Innovative Neuroimmune Center Provides Care across the Lifespan

Published on in Neurosciences Update

More than 500 children and 4,000 adults with neuroimmune disorders are cared for at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP). Neuroimmune conditions encompass disorders such as multiple sclerosis (MS), neuromyelitis optica, and antibody-associated inflammatory disorders of the central nervous system, such as NMDA receptor encephalitis (discovered by Josep Dalmau, MD, PhD, at Penn).

Pediatric MS and Neuroimmune Clinic

The Pediatric MS and Neuroimmune Clinic at CHOP includes 6 faculty — myself and Drs. Waldman, Narula, Hopkins, Tennekoon, and Adang, an MS-trained nurse — as well as social work and rehabilitation services. The adult team is composed of Drs. Bar-Or, Markowitz, Berger, Williamson, and Jacobs, as well as clinical pharmacy and MS nursing. Treatment of both children and adults with neuroimmune conditions requires a multidisciplinary approach, and encompasses immunomodulatory agents as well as physio and occupational therapy, psychology, nursing, and allied healthcare supports.

Center for Neuroinflammation and Neurotherapeutics

In addition to our clinical mission, the CHOP and HUP teams are part of the Center for Neuroinflammation and Neurotherapeutics, a newly established Type I Center that is committed to integrating superb care and cutting-edge translational research in the rapidly expanding neuroimmune field. At the heart of the center are comprehensive care, research, and training programs that work across the age-span to ensure seamless transition of care from childhood into adulthood, and to implement highly coordinated and integrated research studies to answer key questions that could not previously be addressed.

An iterative “bedside to bench and back” paradigm will aim to bridge basic and applied research approaches, to elucidate fundamental principles of normal immune/brain interactions as well as abnormal mechanisms involved across a range of neuroinflammatory diseases. Defining biological contributors to patient heterogeneity, including careful study of therapeutic mode of action of experimental therapies, reflects the center’s strong interest in precision medicine. As neuroinflammation is implicated in a broadening range of neurological and medical conditions, the center will foster and help coordinate cross-disease studies, establishing exciting links between programs and centers within neurology and across departments.