Neuroimmunological disorders (NDs) are a related collection of immune-mediated, demyelinating diseases of the central nervous system. Collectively, NDs are the leading cause of acquired neurological disability in young and middle aged adults. Unfortunately, there are no cures and therapeutics primarily target immune response and symptom management, and have limited impact on reducing disability accumulation. The most prevalent ND is multiple sclerosis (MS) – affecting upwards of 700,000-900,000 Americans, with more than 12,000 new diagnoses per year in the United States. Other NDs are much less common and rare, and include neuromyelitis optica (NMO), transverse myelitis (TM), and acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) – precise estimates of prevalence and incidence for these rare NDs do not exist.

The lab aims to characterize NDs across various populations, and elucidate genetic and environmental/lifestyle determinants of onset, clinical presentation, comorbidity burden, and disability accrual.  Thus, we are developing a diverse research portfolio to tackle critical micro-, individual-, and macro-level questions to advance epidemiologic and clinical knowledge of NDs with the hope of advancing clinical cares and the lives of those living with NDs.

The Team

(Recent NDGE activities can be seen here:

Principal Investigator

Farren Briggs, PhD ScM
Assistant Professor

Publications can be seen: here.


Current Graduate Student Trainees

Elina Misicka
PQHS 3Y Doctoral Student (2018-present)
Projects: 1. Identifying baseline factors predictive of transition to secondary progress MS from relapsing remitting MS; 2. Investigating causal relationships between cardiometabolic traits and MS outcomes.

Eddie Hill
SOM 4Y Medical Student (2017-present)
Projects: 1. Characterizing the burden of asthma and psychiatric conditions in MS; 2. Evaluating the prevalence of MS in the USA.

Blaine Martyn-Dow
Non-Degree Graduate Research Assistant (2018-present)
Project: Comparing persons with MS with respect to polyautoimmunity

Current Undergraduate Student Trainees

Corriene Sept
Senior. Major: Biochemistry; Minor: Bioethics & Medical Humanities (2018-present)
Projects: 1. Evaluating the influence of MS susceptibility variants on risk for secondary progressive MS; 2. Identifying genetic modifiers of tobacco smoke risk in MS.


Former Post-Doctoral Trainee

Yanina Natanzon, PhD MS
NDGE Post-Doctoral Fellow (2016)
Currently a Senior Clinical Epidemiologist at Syapse
Formerly a NCI R25 Fellow at the Mayo Clinic
Project: Developing a multi-omic framework for predicting MS status


Former Graduate Student Trainees

Jordan Bley, MPH
Non-Degree Graduate Research Assistant (2019)
GWU MPH Practicuum Trainee (2018)

Currently a Epidemiology Doctoral Student at Vanderbilt University
Project: Investigating the role of MS risk factors on multiple aspects of MS disability


Frances Wang, MS
PQHS MS Biostatistics Research Assistant (2018-2019)
Currently an Epidemiology Doctoral Student at John Hopkins SPH
Project: Utilizing genetic and clinical factors to predict depression risk after MS onset


Justin Yu, MS
PQHS MS Biostatistics Research Assistant (2017-2018)
Currently an Epidemiology Doctoral Student at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Project: Investigating the contribution of susceptibility factors on early clinical expression of MS


Jinghong Jiangyang, MS
PQHS MS Biostatistics Research Assistant (2017-2018)

Currently a Data and Policy Analyst at Acumen, LLC.
Project: Predicting diagnostic delays in persons with MS


Paola Saroufim, PharmD MPH
PQHS MPH Research Assistant (2015-2017)
Currently a Research Scientist at CWRU/PQHS Institute for Computational Biology
Project: Profiling cardiovascular conditions in MS, NMO, and TM.


Former Undergraduate Student Trainees

Sophia Zweig
Major: Biology
Research Intern (2016-2017)
Currently a MPH student at John Hopkins SPH
Project: Describing cardiovascular, autoimmune, and allergic conditions conditions in MS, NMO, and TM.


Shannon Fu
Major: Statistics
SAGES Senior Capstone Student
Currently a Modelling Analyst at KeyBank
Project: Comparative analysis of health-outcomes by healthcare-seeking behaviors in persons with MS