Announcing the 2023-2025 James T. Lubin Clinician-Scientist Fellowship Grant Recipient

The Siegel Rare Neuroimmune Association is pleased to announce that Dr. Haiwen Chen has been selected to receive the 2023 SRNA James T. Lubin Fellowship Clinician Scientist grant award. Dr. Haiwen Chen will receive clinical and research training under the mentorship of Dr. Carlos Pardo at The Johns Hopkins University from 2023-2025.

The James T. Lubin Clinician Scientist Fellowship Award supports up to two years of clinical care and research training in an environment where clinicians learn to use the most current scientific tools to treat and advance knowledge about rare neuroimmune disorders, that include ADEM, AFM, MOGAD, NMOSD, ON, and TM. After completing the program, Fellows are prepared for a combined clinical and research career in academic medicine, directing robust research programs important to rare neuroimmune disorders.

Dr. Chen is a pediatric neurologist and neuroscientist who received her medical degree from the University of Maryland. She then completed a Pediatrics Residency at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. For her fellowship, she will work with the neuroimmunology team at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine to look at how antibodies and immune cells from patients with MOGAD affect brain cells and their connections. Understanding this process may help us understand how MOGAD causes brain and spine dysfunction, allowing us to design better strategies to treat the disease. For example, understanding what part of the immune system may be overactive in MOGAD may allow us to selectively target and suppress that particular part of the immune system to reduce disease.

The team will look for concurrent infections in patients with MOGAD to investigate whether infections may drive immune reactions initially intended to fight off infection that then also attacks the body’s own cells, causing autoimmune disease, i.e., MOGAD. They suggest that the type of trigger for disease along with the characteristics of the autoantibody in individual patients, such as where it binds and how strongly it binds, may provide insight into the clinical course of disease.

Finally, the team will investigate why patients develop different severity of disease, different rates of relapse, and different responsiveness to treatments. They predict that these clinical features may be related to how much brain cell dysfunction is caused by the disease as well as how the disease is triggered. Better understanding of how these clinical differences arise will allow doctors to be better able to counsel patients on prognosis and course of illness. Moreover, predictors for severity of clinical course would likely affect management choices in terms of how aggressively to treat disease to minimize neurological disability while balancing possible risks of different treatment courses.

SRNA is excited to have Dr. Chen as a James T. Lubin Fellow. She is an exceptional physician who will benefit greatly from the expert oversight of Dr. Carlos Pardo. SRNA is dedicated to the important work of the James T. Lubin Fellowship – through which, we make available the best possible clinical care to the people in our community, we facilitate the opportunity for critical research, and training to pursue this important discipline.

For more information about the James T. Lubin Fellowship, please click here.