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Neuroimmunology / Multiple Sclerosis Research

Active and Current Clinical Trials

The Multiple Sclerosis Clinic at UMass Memorial Health Care participates in many clinical trials and independent research efforts to evaluate the effectiveness of a variety of cutting-edge drugs and treatments for MS, as well as develop new biomarkers, neuro imaging outcomes, and establish causative mechanisms in MS. Currently UMass is the site of several different clinical trials from phase 1 to phase 4, involving patients with Relapsing Remitting, Secondary Progressive, and Primary Progressive MS. We work closely with our research colleagues in the departments of radiology, immunology, infectious diseases, and molecular medicine to develop exciting cross-disciplinary endeavors. 

We welcome collaboration with our patients and other researchers, who are the most important component of our research!

Neuroimmunology Research Coordinators:

Nimmy Francis, Research Coordinator

Nimmy Rose Francis, MD, PhD

Post Doctoral Research Associate


Research Study Contact for Clinical Trials: Conquering Diseases

Nimmy Kanichai Francis, MD, PhD is a clinical postdoc research associate with the Neuroimmunology research team since 2020. Francis, MD, earned her medical degree at Government medical college, Calicut. She also holds an MS in medicine and a PhD from the School of Medical Science, Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur. She aspires to pursue a career as a physician and is particularly interested in clinical trials and research.

UMass Memorial Medical Center email:
UMass Chan Medical School email: 

Neuorimmunology Research Coordinator, Mugdha Deshpande

Mugdha Desphande

Research Coordinator


UMass Memorial Medical Center email:
UMass Chan Medical School email:


Neuroimmunology Research Coordinator, Mariana Kurban, MD

Mariana Kurban, MD, PhD

Post Doctoral Research Associate

Mariana Kurban, MD, PhD, is a clinical postdoc research associate. She completed her education from Danylo Halytskyi Lviv National Medical University in Ukraine specializing in Gastroenterology and Internal Medicine. Dr. Kurban was an assistant professor for the Department of Propaedeutics from 2014 to 2022, teaching and examining pathological conditions of internal diseases, until the war changed her life. She is in the process of transferring her education and ten years of experience to the US medical state board requirements. 

UMass Memorial Medical Center
UMass Chan Medical School

Neuroimmunology Research Coordinator: Aurelie Martin-Puig

Aurelie Martin-Puig

Research Coordinator

UMass Memorial Medical Center email:
UMass Chan Medical School email: 

Collaborative Partners

Neurological Rehabilitation and Recovery Clinic
Andrew Galica, MD

Paula Bellin, MD is a board-certified urologist with a special interest in female urology, incontinence, and kidney stones. She is a staff Urologist at UMMHC and Hahnemann Hospital. In addition to her residency training in Urology she has completed a further year of subspecialty training in Neuro-Urology (bladder impairments with neurologic illness).  

Clinical Neuropsychologist
Joan M. Swearer, PhD is a Professor and Clinical neuropsychologist; her research includes clinical features and treatment of dementing illnesses, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. 

Additional Support Services

     Physical Therapy
     Occupational Therapy
     Bracing Services
     Speech Therapy and Cognitive Retraining
     Behavioral Health
     Nutritional care and weight loss program
     Wound Care

Gerstein Lab 
Rachel Gerstein, PhD, a B cell immunologist in the UMass Microbiology and Physiology Systems department,is interested in B cell lymphoma and Multiple sclerosis (MS) results from autoimmune-mediated damage to the central nervous system (CNS). We collaborated on investigator innitiated study on role of B cell in MS and use of the flow cytometry to support Phase 3 trials of patients with relapsing MS. The study found patients treated with Oc patients to have significantly lower disability progression at either 12 or 24 weeks was significantly lower for patients treated with Oc. We are studying 1) biomarker analysis using flow cytometry to measure B cell subsets as a way to understand heterogeneity of patient immune dysfunction and response to treatment, and 2) antibody repertoire of MS patients.

Richmond Lab
In collaboration with Jillian Richmond (UMass Dermatology Dept) who is an expert in autoimmunity, we are examining which immune cells are present in the blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of MS patients using 2 new technologies that allow us to characterize many immune cells and the proteins they produce at the same time. We plan to correlate these cell types with clinical and laboratory tests, and to track which immune targeting treatments work best for patients over time, with the ultimate goal of informing best treatment options. 

McCormick Lab
We collaborate also with Beth McCormick, PhD, (Founder and Director), Doyle Ward, PhD, (Director of Operations) and Maldanado-Contreras Lab with Ana Maldonado-Contreras, PhD (co-Founder) from the UMass Center for Microbiome Research in order to evaluate the association between gut microbiome and Multiple Sclerosis. The Center for Microbiome Research originated as a collaboration between UMass Chan Medical School, UMass Amherst’s Life Sciences Laboratories and the UMass Dartmouth Center for Scientific Computing and Data Visualization Research. With the support of this center, we are collecting and analyzing stool samples from patients with different types of MS (relapsing remitting and progressive, either active or stable) and on different disease modifying therapies as well as from healthy controls. The gut microbiome has been implicated in numerous immunologic disorders, including MS, and we aim to characterize differences in microbiome composition in MS that may provide biomarkers for assessing disease activity and could theoretically be an avenue to prevent MS in young at-risk populations.

Fitzgerald’s lab
Katherine Fitzgerald, PhD, and Fiachra Humphries, PhD, in  Humphries Lab in the Umass Infectious diseases & Immunology focus on how inflammasome signaling and pyroptotic cell death impacts neuroinflammation and neurogenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis. Multiple studies highlight how Gasdermin D, a key driver of pyroptosis, promotes the development and progression of multiple sclerosis. In our unique collaboration with Dr. Fitzgerald’s lab and our research team, we study Dimethyl fumarate (DMF) and the inhibitory effects on a form of cell death called pyroptosis.

Liisa Selin, MD, PhD and Anna Gil, PhD  of the Department of Pathology are viral immunologists who investigate the role of T cells in both protection and immunopathogenesis during viral infections, in particular focusing on Influenza A and Epstein Barr virus. They are interested in understanding the role aberrations in T cell immune responses in particular those directed at Epstein Barr virus play in the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis (MS) and myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue (ME/CFS). We have ongoing studies examining T cell responses in both patient populations and are recruiting patients (funded by National Multiple Sclerosis Society, UMMHC and Solve ME/CFS Inc.).

Other collaborations include:

  • Michigan State University (MSU), 
  • John Hopkins Hospital
  • National Institutes of Health NINDS, Daniel Reich, MD, PhD
  • UMass Amherst, Richard Van Emmerik, PhD
  • Oregon Health and Science University, Rebecca Spain, MD, MSPH
  • University of British Columbia, Alexander Rauscher, PhD
  • University College of London, Queens Mary Hospital
  • McGill University,
  • University of Vermont, Andrew Solomon, MD
  • Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Tanuja Chitnis, MD
  • Massachusetts General Hospital, Caterina Maneiro, MD, PhD 
  • University of Montreal, Julien Cohen-Adad, PhD