Five Women Unite to Crack the Code of Multiple Sclerosis


In a collaborative tour de force, five female principal investigators, including NYSCF’s own Dr. Valentina Fossati, are uncovering the cellular mechanisms behind multiple sclerosis (MS).

Over the course of two years, the multidisciplinary team have been collecting patient samples and data across a range of MS disease types. First, patients are clinically assessed by Dr. Ilana Katz. They are then given MRIs that help Dr. Matilde Inglese place them into one of the three stages of MS disease progression. Next, skin biopsies are 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. Studying these cells will hopefully shed light on the mechanisms of disease progression.

The research is made possible by funding from the Department of Defense. 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.

Meet the principal investigators:


  • Dr. Ilana Katz-Sand is an assistant professor of neurology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City and a member of the MS Microbiome Consortium. Her 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.


  • Dr. Patrizia Casaccia is the founding director of the CUNY Advanced Science Research Center’s (ASRC) Neuroscience Initiative. Her research at the ASRC focuses on glial cell biology. She maintains an affiliation with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, where she previously served as professor with the Department of Neuroscience, Neurology and Department of Genomics and Multi-scale Biology. She also directed the Center of Excellence for Myelin Repair within the Friedman Brain Institute.


  • Dr. Catarina Quinzii is 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 is 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.


  • Dr. Valentina Fossati has been 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.

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