The Duke Center for Research in Autoimmunity and Multiple Sclerosis (DREAMS) is a multidisciplinary group of basic and clinical researchers dedicated to improving our understanding of, and patient care for, MS and autoimmune disease (AI).
DREAMS allows researchers throughout Duke to collaborate, facilitate novel research by the provision of seed funding, and improve education awareness and outreach of MS and auto-immune (AI) diseases. Established in 2015, the nascent DREAMS center includes 31 faculty members from 10 departments within the Duke School of Medicine.
Investigators from the basic sciences are studying AI- and MS-related topics including model systems of disease pathology, immune cell regulation, and function, re-myelination, and the role of environmental factors such as diet on MS and AI diseases. Our clinical research includes the neuroimmunological mechanisms associated with diseases including paraneoplastic syndrome, myasthenia graves, and pediatric infectious disease, while further characterizing the pathoetiology of MS and its subtypes. An additional underpinning of DREAMS is its investment in clinical and patient education, as well as the initiation of a dedicated LP clinic that will collect cerebrospinal fluid for future MS and AI research.
Simon Gregory, PhD, Director of Research
Christopher Eckstein, MD, Co-Director of Research
Mark Skeen, MD Director of Clinical Research and Education
F. Lee Hartsell, MD, MPH, Director of Connected Health
Katherine Heller, PhD, Director of Statistical Research
As directors of clinical research, Mark Skeen, MD, and Chris Eckstein, MD collaborate with researchers within DREAMS, the Duke Clinical Research Institute, and other organizations. They help to identify and recruit study participants, establish new directions for research, and act as an ambassador for DREAMS by convincing researchers within Duke to join the project.
- Bryan Walker, PA-C (Neurology) - Clinical teaching and research
- John Yi, PhD (Surgery) – Myasthenia gravis immune profiling Rehabilitation/Traumatic brain injury
Traumatic Brain Injury and Neurorehabilitation
- Joel Morgenlander, MD (Neurology) - Sports concussion and traumatic brain injury
- Jodi Hawes, MD (Neurology) - Stroke, traumatic brain injury, neurorehabilitation neuro-
- Mays Antoine El-Dairi, MD (Opthamology) - MS and ophthalmic manifestations
- M. Tariq Bhatti, MD (Neurology, Opthamology) - optical coherence tomography and multifocal visual evoked potential analysis, subclinical pathways of MS
- James Provenzale, MD - design and implementation of nanoparticles
DREAMS' basic research seeks to improve our understanding of the origins and progression of multiple sclerosis, as well as the body's response to the condition and treatment, examining new imaging techniques, specific elements of the body's immune response, the condition of neuronal myelin over time, and how nutrition affects disease progression.
- Glen Jaffe, MD (Opthamology) – OCT/MVEP
- Mari Shinohara, PhD (Immunology) – Model systems of EAE and inflammation
- Maria Ciofani, PhD (Immunology) – Th17 lineage, fate mapping and regulation
- Thomas Tedder, PhD (Immunology) – B-cells and EAE, Lymphoma, NMO spectrum disorder
- Kent Weinhold, PhD (Surgery) - Immunologic signatures of disease, monitoring of immune checkpoint blockade
- Dennis Ko, MD, PhD (Molecular Genetics and Microbiology) – Immunology of host response
- Eric Benner, MD, PhD (Pediatrics) – White matter injury
Nutrition and Immunity:
- Nancie MacIver, MD, PhD (Pediatrics) – Diet and Inflammation
Developing a smartphone app that records and and analyzes the wealth of data relevant to MS presents a huge logistical and statistical challenge. As director of statistical research, Katherine Heller works to overcome this challenge. Her research interests lie in the fields of machine learning and Bayesian statistics. Specifically, she develops new methods and models to discover latent structure in data, including cluster structure, using Bayesian nonparametrics, hierarchical Bayes, techniques for Bayesian model comparison, and other Bayesian statistical methods.
She applies these methods to problems in the brain and cognitive sciences, where she strives to model human behavior, including human categorization and human social interactions.
To facilitate research and patient education, DREAMS provides funding for monthly journal clubs and quarterly dinners, bursaries for trainee education, and seed funding for novel high-risk, high-reward research ($100,000 annually) that will transform our understanding of MS and AI, and which will be translated into larger government and foundation-sponsored research.