The major research goals of our laboratory are:

- Identifying novel and unusual infectious and autoimmune causes of meningitis, encephalitis and myelitis

- Studying the host response in a variety of neuroinflammatory disorders ranging from tuberculous meningitis, autoimmune encephalitis and multiple sclerosis

- Understanding B cell involvement in MS, including detailed characterization of viral and autoantigens

- Understanding immune mechanisms of progressive MS to identify novel therapeutic targets

Close interactions with the UCSF MS and Neuroinflammation Center, the DeRisi Lab and the UCSF EPIC and ORIGINS studies ensure a steady stream of research participants who donate blood and CSF. These include CSF samples arriving from around the world that we investigate for unusual causes of meningoencephalitis.

Previous work by Drs. Christian von Büdingen and Stephen Hauser in the UCSF MS and Neuroinflammation Division demonstrated that there is an influx of antigen-experienced and stimulated B cells from the periphery during phases of MS disease-activity. We are presently interested in understanding how and why B cells are recruited to the CNS, and in how far the CNS environment can further activate immigrant lymphocyte populations. We hypothesize that the antigen receptors of CNS-invading lymphocytes may hold the key to understanding autoimmune triggers of MS. We also hypothesize that during progressive stages of MS, a partial CNS sequestration of disease-supporting lymphocytes occurs.