Neuroimmunology clinical and basic research fellowships

Two fellowship types (or hybrids of these) are available to selected neurologists and PhD scientists to equip them for an academic career.

  1. Clinical fellowship, with training in diagnosis and treatment of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) and related disorders along with formal training in biostatistics, clinical trial design, epidemiology, ethics of human research, etc. and the opportunity to obtain Master of Science in Clinical Investigation Degree.
  2. Basic research in neuroimmunology.
We are proud of our three MS Fellows who were each awarded a competitive fellowship from the National MS Society for 2020. From left to right: John Ciotti, MD, who received the Sylvia Lawry Physician fellowship, and Laura Ghezzi, MD, and Biao Xiang, PhD, who each received a NMSS Post-doctoral fellowship.

Neuroimmunology fellowships

Anne Cross, MD, with former MS Fellow, Enrique Alvarez, MD, PhD, (Associate Prof. of Neurology, Univ. of Colorado) at the 2019 ECTRIMS meeting in Stockholm, Sweden.

The Neuroimmunology Section within the Department of Neurology offers two different types of post-doctoral Fellowships. The goal of each is to provide clinical training and research opportunities to selected neurologists and PhD scientists to equip them for a career in neuroimmunology. The duration is typically two to three years. We have trained over 20 fellows in the past 15 years, with almost all going into faculty positions at excellent academic institutions afterward, including Massachusetts General Hosp, Yale, MIT, Univ. of Alabama, Univ of Colorado, Univ of Wisconsin, Mt. Sinai Medical Center, New York City.

All fellows will be assigned one — occasionally two — faculty mentors. The expectation is that the fellow will meet no less than weekly with the mentor.

One type of fellowship involves basic research (usually laboratory-based research), in which the fellow will undertake a research project with a defined hypothesis and goals, determined by the mutual interests of both the fellow and the mentor. The fellow will work in the laboratory of the mentor and will be given guidance on the research project from the faculty member. Projects may involve human studies, studies using animal models, basic cell culture studies, imaging studies or epidemiologic studies.

Another type of fellowship program is aimed at equipping the neurology-trained MD fellow for a career in clinical trials with emphasis on demyelinating diseases. This fellow will have completed neurology residency and will participate actively in at least two ongoing clinical trials. There is an extensive reading list, which each MD fellow is expected to cover with their mentor in systematic fashion. In addition, the fellow will take formal courses in epidemiology, biostatistics and the ethical performance of clinical trials and will be expected to plan a clinical trial, including the methodologies for performing the trial and analyzing the results. Our faculty are affiliated with the Washington University CRTC, and the clinical fellow will have the opportunity to obtain the Master of Science in Clinical Investigation degree as part of the training.

The neurologist fellow participating in either type of fellowship training will spend some time in the John Trotter MS Clinic, where the fellow will undertake clinical training in the diagnosis and management of multiple sclerosis patients, and patients with related diseases such as neuromyelitis optica (NMO).

Didactic teaching will involve journal clubs, immunology seminars, lab meetings, and formalized patient care meetings which occur on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. The fellow may also may elect to take or audit graduate level immunology courses and neuroscience courses.

The Neuroimmunology Section of the Department of Neurology at Washington University actively cares for about 2,100 patients with multiple sclerosis, as well as other patients with related diseases including recurrent optic neuritis, transverse myelitis, NMO, CNS sarcoidosis and CNS vasculitides. Our faculty members are funded by research grants from the National Institutes of Health, National MS Society, US Department of Defense, The Missouri Spinal Cord Injury Foundation and The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. Research within the Neuroimmunology Section extends from the level of cell culture to animal models to human clinical trials.


Anne H. Cross, MD
Neuroimmunology Section Head