Why the need for a multidisciplinary center

The field of neuroimmunology was originally a subfield of pathology until the critical discoveries that autoreactive and effector immune cells may be protective within the central nervous system (CNS) during autoimmune, neurodegenerative and neuroinfectious diseases. Thus, not all leukocyte entry into the CNS is pathologic. Immune responses within the CNS are now viewed as specialized and essential for normal physiology. This more modern view of CNS inflammation has created opportunities for research at the interfaces between the basic sciences of immunology and neuroscience and the clinical specialties of neurology, radiology, rheumatology and infectious diseases. Despite the potential, few academic institutions have created the kind of multidisciplinary centers in which clinicians and scientists that treat and study the interplay and overlay of the immune and nervous systems in normal and pathological states can interact  and synergize in their efforts.

What sets the Washington University CNND apart

At Washington University School of Medicine, we have a core of faculty whose clinical and scientific niches fall within the fields of neuroimmunology and neuroinfectious diseases and a peripheral group of basic scientists with interest in specific aspects of disease processes within these categories. Although many of these faculty participate in a variety of successful interdepartmental scientific endeavors that include Program Projects, combined lab meetings and collaborative research projects, the creation and development of a Center for Neuroimmunology and Neuroinfectious Diseases (CNND), led by Robyn Klein, MD, PhD, (Division of Infectious Diseases) and Anne Cross, MD,  (Neuroimmunology Unit Leader), will provide additional structure and support for this interdisciplinary community, increase their synergy and enrich individual and collaborative translational and basic science research programs.

The CNND, comprised of researchers and clinicians from Internal Medicine, Neurology, Radiology  and Pediatrics, is the first such multidepartmental endeavor focused on the pathogenesis of CNS inflammatory and infectious diseases.

Our mission

The mission of the CNND is to promote:

  • outstanding patient care and research for immunological and infectious disorders of the nervous system via the training of clinician consultants and basic science researchers
  • the development of novel diagnostic approaches and treatments
  • access to facilities and expertise in neuroimmune interactions and neurotropism to the WUSM scientific community

To further the goal of increasing scientific interactions, the CNND hosts an annual symposium to introduce the intersecting fields of neuroimmunology, neuroinfectious diseases and neuroimaging and to foster interactions between WUSM researchers working within these scientific disciplines.