In a collaborative tour de force, five female principal investigators, including NYSCF's own Dr. Valentina Fossati, are elucidating the role of energy metabolism in the progression of multiple sclerosis (MS) in work funded by the Department of Defense. The multidisciplinary team is collecting patient samples and data across a range of Multiple Sclerosis disease types over the course of two years. March is both MS awareness month and host to International Women’s Day. This unique grant and collaborative effort highlight the importance and impact of women in STEM and shed light on current efforts to find cures for multiple sclerosis.
Patients enrolled in the project are clinically assessed by Dr. Ilana Katz, and further assessed by Dr. Matilde Inglese with brain magnetic resonance imaging, which will further enhance the classification of the patient to one of the three stages of MS disease progression. Skin biopsies are then collected and reprogrammed into induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells by the NYSCF Global Stem Cell Array, permitting Dr. Fossati and her team to generate patient specific neural cells, which will hopefully shed light on the mechanisms of disease progression.
The five Principal Investigators are:
- Dr. Ilana Katz-Sand, an assistant professor of neurology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City and a member of the MS Microbiome Consortium. Current research projects include studies on the mechanisms of neuronal degeneration in progressive MS, an investigation of the role of the gut microbiome in MS, as well as a clinical trial for neuromyelitis optica. In addition to her own projects, Dr. Katz Sand participates in MS clinical trials. She is also involved in education, teaching residents and medical students at Mount Sinai, and lectures on MS and NMO to other physicians and patients.
- Dr. Patrizia Casaccia, recently named the founding director of the CUNY Advanced Science Research Center’s (ASRC) Neuroscience Initiative. Her research at the ASRC focuses on glial cell biology, the study of those cells most common the central nervous system. She maintains an affiliation with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, where she has previously served as professor with the Department of Neuroscience, Neurology and Department of Genomics and Multiscale Biology. She also directed the Center of Excellence for Myelin Repair within the Friedman Brain Institute.
- Dr. Catarina Quinzii, an Assistant Professor at Columbia University Medical Center, with expertise in neurology, neuroscience and genetics, and also holds an appointment in the Division of Neuromuscular Medicine. Her research involves investigating the role of mitochondria dysfunction in disease progression.
- Dr. Matilde Inglese, an Associate Professor of Neurology, Radiology and Neuroscience at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Her lab focuses on understanding the pathophysiological mechanisms leading to disease onset and progression in patients with multiple sclerosis. She serves as a member of the National Institute of Health study sections, and is also a member of the American Academy of Neurology and the International Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine.
- Dr. Valentina Fossati, an Investigator at the New York Stem Cell Foundation since 2011. She was a recipient of the NYSCF - Druckenmiller Fellowship in 2009. Her current research focuses on using induced pluripotent stem cell modeling for understanding neurodegeneration in MS.