Science Advisors

Joseph Berger, MD
Professor of Neurology and MS Division Chief, Department of Neurology, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Berger is a key opinion leader in the treatment of multiple sclerosis and other disorders of the central nervous system.  Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Neurology, Dr. Berger was trained in Internal Medicine at Georgetown University and did Neurology residencies at the Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, Israel and the University of Miami School of Medicine before joining the Faculty at the University of Miami where he conducted research and practiced medicine.  He subsequently moved to the University of Kentucky where he was chair of the Department of Neurology for 18 years.  In 2014, Dr. Berger joined the Faculty at the University of Pennsylvania in the Department of Neurology.  He has conducted extensive research in the treatment of multiple sclerosis and has been a leading investigator into the cause and treatment of Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy, which arises as a consequence of biologic treatments for MS. Dr. Berger is a member of the International Society of NeuroVirology, Member of the Board of Directors and Counselor, International Society of NeuroVirology, the Board of Directors of the International Society of NeuroVirlogy, Co-Chair of the “International NeuroAIDS Working Group” at the 5th International Symposium of NeuroVirology, Baltimore, MD.

David Clifford, MD
Melba and Forest Seay Professor of Clinical Neuropharmacology in Neurology and Professor of Medicine, Washington University, St. Louis

Dr. Clifford has a broad interest in neuropharmacology. Development of more successful medical management of neurological disease has been his clinical focus, and has included participation in studies of epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and virtually all neurologic complications of HIV. His present focus is on developing optimal treatments for neurologic complications of HIV including HIV-associated dementia, painful peripheral neuropathies in HIV, progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, cryptococcal meningitis, toxoplasma encephalitis, primary CNS lymphoma, cytomegalovirus encephalitis/radiculomyelitis, and HIV myelopathy. Dr. Clifford leads a nationwide clinical research group, the Neurologic AIDS Research Consortium, funded by NINDS of the National Institute of Health, whose specific mission is to pursue better treatments for HIV associated neurologic complications. He is also Principal Investigator for the Washington University AIDS Clinical Trials Unit. He is working in international studies, particularly cooperating with medical schools of Ethiopia to further diagnosis and treatment of HIV in that country.  Dr. Clifford has served as President of the medical staff of St. Louis ConnectCare, the corporation providing indigent health care in the St. Louis region and as Medical Director of Neurology for Barnes Jewish Hospital.  On a national basis, Dr. Clifford has chaired the Neurology Section of the AIDS Clinical Trials Group, served on the Scientific Program Committees for the American Academy of Neurology and for the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, as a Counsellor for the American Neurological Association, Chairs the External Advisory Committee for the National NeuroAIDS Tissue Consortium and is a member of the American Federation for AIDS Research Scientific Advisory Board. He sits on the editorial boards of Journal of NeuroVirology and NeuroAIDS and is a frequent ad hoc reviewer for the major neurologic journals.

Paola Cinque, MD
Clinical Group Leader of Neurovirology and Member, Division of Immunology, Transplantation and Infection, Ospedale di San Raffaele Institute
Ted M. Dawson, MD, PhD
Director, Institute for Cell Engineering and Professor of Neurology, Johns Hopkins Medicine

Dr. Ted Dawson focuses on movement disorders with many advances in neurobiology of disease have stemmed from Dr. Dawson’s identification of the mechanisms of neuronal cell death and the elucidation of the molecular mechanisms of neurodegeneration. He pioneered the role of nitric oxide in neuronal injury in stroke and excitotoxicity and elucidated the molecular mechanisms by which nitric oxide and poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase kills neurons. His studies of nitric oxide led to major insights into the neurotransmitter functions of this gaseous messenger molecule. He co-discovered the neurotrophic properties of non-immunosuppressant immunophilin ligands. Dr. Dawson’s discoveries have led to innovative approaches and enhanced the development of new agents to treat neurologic disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease as well as other neurodegenerative disorders.

Dr. Ted Dawson received his medical degree and Ph.D. in pharmacology from the University of Utah School of Medicine. He then completed an internship in medicine at the University of Utah Affiliated Hospitals before going to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania for a neurology residency. Next, he came to The Johns Hopkins where he completed a fellowship in neuroscience and senior clinical fellowship in movement disorders.

Valina L. Dawson, PhD
Director, Neuroregeneration and Stem Cell Programs, Institute for Cell Engineering and Professor of Neurology, Johns Hopkins Medicine

Valina L. Dawson, PhD, is a Professor of Neurology, Neuroscience, Physiology and the Graduate Program in Cellular & Molecular Medicine. She is co-director of the Neuroregeneration and Stem Cell Programs in the Institute for Cell Engineering. Dr. Dawson’s laboratory is actively engaged in discovering and defining cell signaling pathways that lead to either neuronal survival or neuronal death. We have characterized neuronal injury and survival pathways in cell, fly and mouse models of Parkinson’s disease and stroke. She explores the role of the monogenic forms of Parkinson’s disease with a focus on parkin, EIF4G1 and LRRK2 in order to begin to define the biochemical signaling important to Parkinson’s disease. She has developed yeast, cellular, fly and mouse models to explore the Parkinson’s disease causing mutations as well as studying human neuronal cultures and human postmortem tissue explore survival and disease signaling events relevant to Parkinson’s disease. and stroke as well as to define neuron survival networks.

Dr. Dawson’s laboratory in studying mechanisms of brain cell death in stroke, has defined the excitotoxic signaling pathway mediated by nitric oxide, poly(ADP-Ribose) polymerase and apoptosis inducing factor and named it Parthanatos, to distinguish it from other distinct forms of cell death including apoptosis, autophagy and necrosis. She has identified and characterized new survival molecules which include a transcription factor NFIA, a novel E3 ligase Iduna, a novel Notch regulatory protein Botch and a novel AAA+ ATPase Thorase that acts to disassemble the GRIP1/GluR2 complex, thus regulating excitability, plasticity and behavior, as well as a microRNA, mIR-223 that regulates neuronal survival in part through regulation of glutamate receptor expression. Recently we have found overlap between our investigations in Parthanatos and Parkinson’s disease in that age dependent loss of dopamine neurons due to expression of the parkin substrate AIMP2 is dependent on Parthanatos. She is currently exploring if Parthanatos generally contributes to DA neurodegeneration and PD and has exciting new preliminary data that Parthantos is a common feature in many PD models as well as in human PD postmortem tissue.

The Dawson laboratory employs advanced technologies in high throughput screening, next generation sequencing including RNA Seq and ChIP Seq, ribosomal foot printing, and high throughput proteomic analysis coupled with advanced computational biology to investigate signaling networks important in stroke, Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders. The overarching goal of the research is to understand death and survival signaling in order to identify new targets for therapeutic development.

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