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Tanuja Chitnis, MD
Associate Neurologist, Brigham and Women's Hospital
Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School

Brigham and Women's Hospital
Department of Neurology
75 Francis Street
Boston, MA 02115

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Research Narrative:
I am a neurologist specializing in MS and I serve as the Medical Director of the CLIMB Natural History study at the Partners MS Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital which follows over 2400 MS patients longitudinally. I have published over 75 peer-reviewed articles in the MS field. I have a focus in studying predictors and modulators of disease course of MS patients of all ages, including clinical and neuroimaging features as well as immunological and hormonal markers. In addition, in my role as the Director of the Partners Pediatric MS Center at MGH, and the Chair of the International Pediatric MS Study group I have led several initiatives in the study of MS in children.

  • CLIMB Study: I am the Medical Director of the CLIMB Natural History Study assessing disease course and prognosis of approximately 2000 MS patients followed longitudinally with annual standardized neuroimaging, biological sample collection, OCT and cognitive/quality of life assessments. The goal of this study is to assess predictors of disease course and treatment response in a large cohort of MS patients. I have funded grants from the National MS Society to assess “Biomarkers and predictors of disease progression in MS”. A list of all CLIMB publications are listed on the following website:

• Gender influences in autoimmune disease: Given the prevalence of MS and NMO in women, I have developed new initiatives to study this relationship. I organized and co-chaired a 2-day workshop to review sex influences in MS, SLE and RA disease course and pathogenesis with 40 participants, including 12 invited international experts (June 2012, funded by the Brigham Research Institute and Connors Center for Women). This resulted in a full journal edition of 12 articles in Clinical Immunology, which I co-edited. I have since published works related to gender differences and hormonal associations with disease course in MS.

• Web-manager: I managed the creation of the Partners MS Center (BWH) and Partners Pediatric MS Center (MGH) websites, including website design, and content, a webcalendar for documenting on-call and conference schedules, treatment protocols for physicians and patients.

• MS profile: I have managed the creation of an MS profile graph from data stored in the MS Oracle database. This profile depicts patient EDSS scores, relapse and MRI information, treatments and study enrollment all in a succinct format, which gives a clear “snapshot” of the patient’s status. This tool is now used for all patients seen at the Partners MS Center.

• Partners Pediatric MS Center: I am the founding Director of the Partners Pediatric MS Center at the Massachusetts General Hospital. In 2006, Partners Pediatric MS Center was selected as one of six national Pediatric MS Centers of Excellence in 2006 and is the recipient of a $1.5M Network grant from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to fund a 6-year development period. I head a multidisciplinary team of 10 clinicians and chair monthly clinical meetings. In addition, I direct the clinical research program for the Center, which includes neuroimmunology, genetic, neuroimaging as well as clinical outcomes research.

• International Pediatric MS Study Group: In 2010, I was elected Chair of the International Pediatric MS Study Group (2010-2013), which has over 150 members from over 40 countries. I am leading an initiative to develop consensus on clinical trial design and recommendations regarding MS therapies to be evaluated in pediatric MS. I am the first author on a consensus statement on “Evaluation of new and existing therapeutics in pediatric MS” published in Multiple sclerosis Journal in December 2011, which incorporated consensus opinions from 50 members on clinical trial design. I chaired a meeting in January 2012 in Washington D.C. (sponsored by the National MS Society) with 70 attendees including the FDA, EMA, academic leaders and industry representatives to further discuss clinical trial design and I am the first author on the ensuing meeting report.

• U.S. Network of Pediatric MS Centers: I am a member of the steering committee of the U.S. Network of pediatric MS Centers, where I have participated in the establishment of collaborative multicenter protocols evaluating the clinical, radiological, genetic and immunological profile of these patients. I served as the chair of the steering committee from 2011-2012. In addition, I chaired the MRI subcommittee meetings and presented its inaugural MRI research work at the ACTRIMS meeting in 2010.

• Pediatric MS and NMO definitions: I am a member of international efforts through the IPMSSG, NINDS-CDE and Guthy-Jackson Foundation to develop standardized datasets and diagnostic definitions for pediatric MS, NMO (neuromyleitis optica) and demyelinating diseases. I am the PI of a funded project through the Guthy-Jackson Charitable Foundation to study the clinical and MRI phenotypes of children with NMO spectrum disorders.