Our Panel of Experts

This is an ongoing opportunity for physicians to consult face-to-face virtually with leading experts in the field of neuroimmunology.

Many clinicians struggle with challenging cases of presumed inflammation-mediated neuropsychiatric deteriorations (with or without preceding infection) that do not fit a defined diagnosis. Without clear biomarkers and clinical treatment pathways, many clinicians are unsure how to proceed. Even in quaternary care centers with multiple physicians working together on these cases, these highly specialized teams struggle with next steps. Our panel has expertise in autoimmune encephalitis, multiple sclerosis, CNS vasculitis, neuropsychiatric lupus, Behcet’s disease, Sydenham chorea, PANS/PANDAS, autism deteriorations, and other post-infectious, inflammatory, and autoimmune brain disorders and is eager to share what they’ve learned from their experiences treating complex patients.

Our intention for establishing the Neuroimmune Consultation Panel is to help clinicians think through cases in a multi-disciplinary team setting. Our goal is to learn from each other and share what we learn. The panel will review the data submitted by the referring team and discuss (with the referring clinician) potential pathways for next steps. The panel discussion will be recorded and catalogued in a restricted educational area of Neuroimmune Foundation’s website. There may be times when the referring MD may want to write the case up for publication in order to disseminate knowledge. The panel is willing to help with this process in some cases after obtaining consent/assent from the family/patient.

This panel is being offered thanks to a grant from the state of North Carolina to help children with PANS/PANDAS. Therefore, through June 2023, priority will be granted to North Carolina physicians submitting cases of children who have/appear to have a PANS/PANDAS-like presentation.

Since patients with psychiatric presentations of neuroinflammatory disorders are often underserved with regards to the medical system, priority will be given to cases with a psychiatric presentation.

Because this panel of experts are a “quaternary” care team, preference will be given to cases coming from tertiary care centers where full evaluation has been completed but there are still puzzling or unanswered questions. We welcome case submissions from community physicians but want to acknowledge acceptance probability will increase after the patient has already had a full evaluation at a tertiary care center, and the team members and/or institution who evaluated the case is included in the case submission. Because a core mission of Neuroimmune Foundation is to improve access to care for all individuals regardless of income, priority will be given to physicians accepting Medicaid as well as insurance and who treat underserved populations.

The panel will meet the second Tuesday of every month at 4:00 – 5:00 pm PT/7:00 – 8:00 pm ET. Upcoming dates are listed below in the form.

Each session will focus on one patient. Physicians wishing to submit a case for consideration may do so below at least two weeks prior to the scheduled meeting. Prior to submitting a case, patient/guardian’s assent/consent must be obtained (per your institution’s rules). Adult or child cases may be submitted. If the child does not have capacity to assent, this may be waived per your institution’s rules. Please remove any identifying information or PHI from the submission. If any identifying information is shared, the data will be redacted immediately upon review and you may need to report this data/privacy breach per your institution’s guidelines.The panel of experts/learners will receive the data from the submitted case prior to the panel meeting.

Please provide a clear, thorough, and concise summary of the case on the form.  Panel members will simultaneously review the detailed data. The goal is to present the data efficiently to allow sufficient time for the panel to interpret findings and discuss the differential diagnosis and next steps towards evaluation and/or treatment.

We will not be allowing additional participants/viewers other than the Neuroimmune Expert/Learner Panel and the referring team during the live consultation, however, the recordings will be made available to physicians for educational purposes.

The opinions and comments of the panelists are based on their personal experiences with their own patients as well as their interpretation of literature.  Panelists are not offering medical advice, but rather seek to educate and inform colleagues about the various considerations applicable to the cases discussed.  Their goal is to help treating physicians be in a better position to assess and treat patients.  Treating physicians must always make the ultimate determination of “next-steps” (evaluation and treatment).  Each child/case is unique, and such determinations should only be made after comprehensive examinations following direct interaction with families and patients.  By attending, you understand and agree to the terms of this disclaimer.

Panel Members

Sam Pleasure, MD, PhD

Glenn W. Johnson, Jr. Memorial Endowed Chair in Neurology
University of California, San Francisco

Sam Pleasure, MD, PhD is the Glenn W. Johnson, Jr. Memorial Endowed Chair in Neurology at UCSF. Dr. Pleasure is a neurologist who specializes in caring for patients with multiple sclerosis. He also has expertise in caring for patients with epilepsy as well as years of experience in managing a variety of neurological conditions in both clinic and hospital settings. Dr. Pleasure has two main areas of inquiry for his research. He studies processes that regulate early brain development in both normal and diseased situations. He also studies autoimmune forms of meningoencephalitis, where inflammation in specific brain areas causes severe neurologic dysfunction. Pleasure received his medical degree and a doctorate in neuroscience from the University of Pennsylvania. He was chief resident during his neurology residency at UCSF, where he then completed a research fellowship in neuroscience Pleasure is a fellow of the American Neurological Association and a member of the American Academy of Neurology, American Epilepsy Society, Society for Neuroscience, Society for Developmental Biology and Cajal Club. He has won numerous awards for his research and has received research funding from a wide variety of private, state and federal sources. He has served in leadership roles in national organizations and in the UCSF Department of Neurology.

David B. Lewis, MD

Chief, Division of Allergy, Immunology, and Rheumatology, Department of Pediatrics, Program in Immunology and Institute for Immunology, Transplantation, Infectious Disease, Stanford University School of Medicine

Dr. Lewis is a physician-scientist with a clinical interest in the diagnosis and treatment of children and adults with inborn errors of immune function, including immunodeficiency with or without accompanying immunedysregulation. His research in human immunology has mainly focused on defining developmental and genetic limitations/acquired perturbations in human adaptive immune responses, particularly mediated by alpha/beta T cells immunity that compromise host defense and/or that predispose to autoimmune disease. As part of this research, he is currently working with Dr. Jennifer Frankovich on defining the circulating phenotype and function of T cells and other leukocyte populations in patients with acute and chronic PANS (pediatric acute neuropsychiatric syndrome) to test the idea that PANS is, at least in part, an autoimmune disorder. Other research has included studies of certain monogenic disorders that include T-cell immunodeficiency, such as Schimke immune-osseous dysplasia (SIOD). This research has contributed to a major improvement in treatment of children with SIOD using sequential haplo transplantation with hematopoietic stem cells and kidney (Bertaina et al., N Engl J Med 2022; 386:2295-2302). His lab has also pursued the development of novel approaches for the prevention and treatment of severe respiratory viruses, particularly influenza and coronavirus infections, that should be effective in all individuals regardless of their baseline immune function, including the very young and those with immunodeficiency. They are actively working on developing non-viral delivery CRISPR systems to provide a broad prophylaxis or treatment platform for viruses that enter the human body via the upper respiratory tract (Abbott et al., Cell. 2020; 181:865–876.e12).

Mark Pasternack, MD

Chief of Pediatric Infectious Disease, Massachusetts General Hospital Associate
Professor of Pediatrics, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard

Mark Pasternack, MD, specializes in Pediatric Service, Infectious Disease Unit, and Chief, Pediatric Infectious Disease Unit, at Massachusetts General Hospital. Educated at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Pasternack completed his residency and clinical infectious disease fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital and a research fellowship at the Center for Cancer Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Author of numerous papers and articles for prestigious medical journals, Dr. Pasternack is an officer of the Massachusetts Infectious Diseases Society and a member of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society as well as the Infectious Diseases Society of America. His broad clinical interests include Infectious Disease and Pediatric Infectious Disease. Dr. Pasternack has provided clinical care to PANS/PANDAS patients for over a decade and has participated in the PANS/ PANDAS Research Consortium to develop clinical guidelines for the management of these patients.

Jennifer Frankovich, MD

Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Pediatrics
Division of Immunology & Rheumatology
Stanford University

Jennifer Frankovich, MD is an Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Allergy, Immunology, and Rheumatology at Stanford University, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. Dr. Frankovich’s clinical expertise is in systemic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases that co-occur with psychiatric symptoms. She completed her training in pediatrics, pediatric rheumatology, and clinical epidemiology at Stanford University.
She directs the Stanford PANS Program that began in 2012. She and her collaborators have created a longitudinal clinical database and large biorepository of patient and control biospecimens. In addition to generating clinical data to better understand the PANS illness, she is collaborating with 10 basic science labs who aim to understand the immunological underpinnings of the illness.

Elizabeth Tong, MD

Assistant Professor of Radiology (Pediatric Radiology)
Stanford University

Elizabeth Tong is a neuroradiologist at Stanford Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. As an imager, she is interested in searching for imaging biomarkers in neurologic disorders caused or mediated by inflammation or autoimmunity, particularly in pediatric population.

Chris Pittenger, MD, PhD

Professor of Psychiatry in Yale Child Study Center

Dr. Chris Pittenger earned his MD and Ph.D. degrees from Columbia University where his graduate work was done with Nobel Prize recipient Eric Kandel. He returned to Yale University, his undergraduate alma mater, for residency and research training in psychiatry in 2003. He join the faculty as an Assistant Professor in 2007 and is now a tenured Professor and Assistant Chair for Translational Research in the Department of Psychiatry.

Herbert M. Lachman, MD

Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medicine, Genetics, and Neuroscience, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Dr. Lachman is a physician-scientist who is clinically trained in internal medicine and
hematology but does basic research on the molecular and genetic basis of neuropsychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders. He is the director of the Program of Behavioral Genetics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. Dr. Lachman was one of the first investigators to use induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) to study neuropsychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders. Dr. Lachman has written more than one-hundred papers and book chapters, and is the author of a book called, “Battle of the Genomes: The struggle for survival in a microbial world.” He is actively involved in teaching medical students, graduate students, and physicians in the Clinical Research Training Program, and has won several teaching awards.

Dr. Richard Frye

Richard Frye, MD, PhD

Director of Research, Neurologist, Rossignol Medical Center, Phoenix, AZ

Dr. Frye is a Child Neurologist with expertise in neurodevelopmental and neurometabolic disorders. He received an MD and PhD in Physiology and Biophysics from Georgetown University.  He completed a residency in Pediatrics at the University of Miami, Residency in Child Neurology and Fellowship in Behavioral Neurology and Learning Disabilities at Harvard University/Children’s Hospital Boston and Fellowship in Psychology at Boston University.  He also received a Masters in Biomedical Science and Biostatistics from Drexel University. He holds board certifications in Pediatrics, and in Neurology with Special Competence in Child Neurology.  He has authored over 300 publications and book chapters and serves on several editorial boards and is currently the Editor-in-Chief for the Section on Mechanisms of Diseases of the Journal of Personalized Medicine.

Dr. Frye is a national leader in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) research. He has led several clinical studies on children with ASD, including studies focusing on defining the clinical, behavioral, cognitive, genetic and metabolic characteristics of children with ASD and mitochondrial disease. Dr. Frye has also led several clinical trials demonstrating the efficacy of safe and novel treatments that target underlying physiological abnormalities in children with ASD, including open-label studies on tetrahydrobiopterin, cobalamin and leucovorin, and a recent double-blind placebo controlled trial on leucovorin. His ongoing research efforts focus on defining metabolic endophenotypes of children with ASD and developing targeted treatments. He is Director of Research and Neurologist at the Rossignol Medical Center in Phoenix AZ.

Submitting a case

Please fill out the form below if you’d like to submit a case to present to the panel for consultation. If your case meets initial guidelines for the panel, you will be invited to submit patient data in Redcap a minimum of two weeks prior to the meeting. This process will take 15–30 minutes, however, the opportunity to consult with the panel is not guaranteed and will be reviewed following submission in Redcap. This brief form below is to screen cases that may not meet all the above criteria or that have a smaller likelihood of selection in order to save physicians time. You will receive a follow up email with a Redcap link if additional information is requested.