The medical professionals on our Medical and Scientific Council (Medical Advisory Board) provide critical advice and direction regarding the TMA’s goals, programs, and policies. They are regular contributors to the TMA newsletter, writing articles regarding symptom management and research, and they also participate in all of our symposia and workshops around the country and around the world.

audreyAudrey Ayres, RN, BSN, MSCN, CRND

Registered Nurse at UT Southwestern Medical Center

Audrey Ayres, RN completed the degree of Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, TX. She began her career in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit at UTMB in Galveston. Later she moved to Miami, FL to work at Jackson Memorial Hospital in the Transplant and Cardiothoracic Surgical ICU. She then returned to Texas and worked at Baylor University Medical Center in the Cardiovascular ICU and was the nursing educator for the Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit and Coronary Care Unit.

Audrey joined the Multiple Sclerosis and Neuroimmunology Program at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in February of 2012, taking the role of primary nurse for the Pediatric Demyelinating Disease Clinic at Children’s Medical Center Dallas. Along with her role as clinical nurse for adult and pediatric patients, she is also the coordinator of the Pediatric Demyelinating Disease Program.

Audrey completed the Linda Morgante Nurse Leadership in Multiple Sclerosis Program and was certified as a Multiple Sclerosis Certified Nurse in 2013. In partnership with the Consortium of MS Centers, Audrey has led a board of Neuroimmunology specialists to create the certification examination in rare neurologic disorders (CRND). She is dedicated to the care of people with rare neuroimmunologic disorders and their families.

scientific-council-gregoryGregory N. Barnes, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor of Neurology and Pediatrics at Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN.

Gregory Barnes’s research focus is the genetics of guidance cues influencing interneuron circuitry during development, and as a result, impacting neurological symptoms in children with neurodevelopmental disorders. His interests have created a truly translational research program to model epilepsy and neurodevelopmental disorders.

BrendaBrenda L. Banwell, MD

Professor of Neurology, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

Dr. Banwell graduated with a degree in medicine from The University of Western Ontario in 1991. She pursued a residency in pediatrics at The Hospital of Western Ontario, University of Western Ontario, from 1991-1994 and a pediatric neurology residency at The Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto from 1994-1997. Dr. Banwell then spent two years completing a neuromuscular disease fellowship at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota. In 1999, Dr. Banwell was appointed as an assistant professor of pediatrics (neurology) at the Hospital for Sick Children and University of Toronto. She was promoted to associate professor in 2006 and full professor in 2012. As of July 1, 2012, Dr. Banwell has taken on the role of chief of neurology at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Dr. Banwell’s clinical and research interests are in pediatric multiple sclerosis and other inflammatory brain disorders.

beckerDaniel Becker, MD

Director & Founder, International Neurorehabilitation Institute

Assistant Professor of Neurology, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD

A board-certified neurologist, spinal cord injury medicine specialist and disability analyst, Dr. Becker is the former director of the Pediatric Spinal Cord Injury Unit at the International Center for Spinal Cord Injury at Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Maryland. After earning his medical degree from Ruprecht Karls University in Heidelberg, Germany, Dr. Becker completed his residency training at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, followed by a fellowship in spinal cord injury medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He is currently part of the Johns Hopkins Neurophysiology Intraoperative Monitoring Division and an assistant professor of neurology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Dr. Becker is also a member of the American Academy of Neurology, as well as a world-renowned expert in the treatment of transverse myelitis.

JuliusJulius Birnbaum, MD

Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology Assistant Professor of Neurology, Baltimore, MD

Dr. Julius Birnbaum received his M.D. from Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons. He completed his Residency in Neurology at Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York. He then returned to complete a full Residency in Internal Medicine at Jacobi Medical Center; Bronx, NY. He is in his final year of a Rheumatology Fellowship at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He earned his Masters in Clinical Investigation at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins. Dr Birnbaum has the unique expertise of rheumatology and neuroimmunology, as he was trained in both specialties. Dr Birnbaum focuses on patients who have transverse myelitis as a result of some underlying rheumatologic conditions, such as Sjogren’s disease or systemic lupus erythematous.

scientific-council-jamesJames Bowen, MD

Medical Director, Multiple Sclerosis Center at Swedish Neuroscience Institute, Seattle, WA

Dr. Bowen received his bachelor of science degree in chemistry from Eastern New Mexico University and his medical degree from The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He completed residencies in internal medicine and neurology at the University of Washington. He is board certified in neurology, and has taught in the departments of both Neurology and Rehabilitation Medicine at the UW.     His research interests include clinical trials of treatments for MS, aging issues in MS, and the immunology, virology and genetics of the disease.

DeanJanet M. Dean, MS, RN, CRRN, CRNP

Pediatric Nurse Practitioner at the Kennedy Krieger Institute and Johns Hopkins Department of Rehabilitation, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Baltimore, MD

Ms. Janet Dean is a board certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore Maryland.  She is also a Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurse.  She attended nursing school at the University of Michigan, completing a Master’s Degree in Parent­-Child Nursing.  Ms. Dean has over thirty years of experience in the specialty of pediatric rehabilitation.  As a nurse practitioner, Ms. Dean specializes in the prevention and treatment of the common health consequences of neuroimmunologic conditions. The focus of her practice is on health promotion and health maintenance throughout the child’s life span.  The development and implementation of a home, activity based rehabilitation program is important for achieving this goal. Ms. Dean has special interest and expertise in the evaluation and treatment of very young children with neuroimmunologic conditions and children requiring ventilator assistance.  She is also interested in the assisting adolescents with neuroimmunologic condition transition to adulthood.

Allen D. DeSena, MD, MPH

Assistant Professor, Department of Neurology at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, OH

Dr. Allen DeSena attended medical school at Loyola-Stritch School of Medicine in Maywood, IL, located in the greater Chicago area. From there, he went on to complete a residency in general pediatrics in New Orleans, LA at the Tulane-Ochsner pediatric program, and he earned his board certification in general pediatrics in 2009. Following his general pediatrics training, he moved to Dallas, TX, where he completed a residency in pediatric neurology at UT-Southwestern Medical Center in conjunction with Children’s Medical Center-Dallas and Parkland Memorial Hospital. During that time, his interest in transverse myelitis and other neuroimmunologic disorders blossomed, and he pursued further training in those areas. In 2012, he was the recipient of the first James T. Lubin fellowship award from the TMA to pursue a clinical and research career in transverse myelitis and other related disorders. He is the first pediatric neurology fellow to study the rare spectrum of neuro-immunological disorders, with a particular focus on Transverse Myelitis.

DeniseDenise Fitzgerald, PhD

Lecturer in Immunology at Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK

Denise completed her B.Sc. in Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics at University College Dublin (1996-2000) where she then went on to pursue her PhD in Immunology under the mentorship of Prof. Alan Baird. During this time Denise developed a keen interest in demyelinating diseases of the CNS (as a result of being diagnosed with acute Transverse Myelitis in 2001!) and in 2004 she moved to Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia to pursue postdoctoral training in MS research. During that time, Denise was awarded a 3-year postdoctoral fellowship from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (USA) which supported her commitment to researching CNS demyelination. In 2009, Denise moved to Queen’s University Belfast to start her own independent research group within the Centre for Infection and Immunity where she is currently a Lecturer in Immunology. Her group runs two programs of research focusing mechanisms of myelin damage (demyelination) and repair (remyelination) in the CNS. Further details can be found here:

Donna Graves, MD

Assistant Professor, Neurology and Neurotherapeutics, Carolinas Medical Center, Charlotte, NC

Dr. Donna Graves recently joined the Department of Neurology at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, North Carolina where she cares for adults and pediatric patients with demyelinating diseases, including multiple sclerosis, transverse myelitis, and neuromyelitis optica as well as other rare neuroimmunologic diseases.  She attended medical school at Mercer University School of Medicine in Macon, Georgia. She completed her neurology residency training at Saint Louis University. Following residency, she moved to Dallas Texas where she completed fellowship training in neuroimmunology focusing on both adult and pediatric demyelinating diseases.

Dr. Graves has a clinical practice at Carolinas Medical Center where she focuses on patient care but also is active is clinical research.  She serves as investigator for several clinical trials.  She also serves as chair of the Neurology Research Committee at CMC.

Dr. Graves is a member of the American Academy of Neurology and Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers.  She serves as reviewer for several peer-reviewed journals.  Her clinical interests focus on rare neuroimmunologic diseases and pediatric demyelinating diseases.


Benjamin M. Greenberg, MD, MHS

Associate Professor at UT Southwestern Medical Center. Deputy Director of the Multiple Sclerosis Program and Director of the Transverse Myelitis and Neuromyelitis Optica Program, Dallas, TX

Dr. Benjamin Greenberg received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Johns Hopkins University and his Masters Degree in Molecular Microbiology and Immunology from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland. He attended medical school at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. Then, he completed an internship in medicine at Rush Presbyterian-St. Lukes Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois before going on to his residency in neurology at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD. He then joined the faculty within the division of neuroimmunology at Hopkins and became the co-director of the Transverse Myelitis Center and director of the Encephalitis Center. In January of 2009 he was recruited to the faculty at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center where he was named Deputy Director of the Multiple Sclerosis Program and Director of the new Transverse Myelitis and Neuromyelitis Optica Program. That same year he established the Pediatric Demyelinating Disease Program at Children’s Medical Center Dallas.

Dr. Greenberg is recognized internationally as an expert in rare autoimmune disorders of the central nervous system (e.g. transverse myelitis, neuromyelitis optica, ADEM and autoimmune encephalitis). He splits his clinical time between seeing both adult and pediatric patients. He routinely consults on the inpatient units of University Hospital, Zale Lipshy, Parkland and Children’s. His research interests are in both the diagnosis and treatment of transverse myelitis, neuromyelitis optica, encephalitis, multiples sclerosis and infections of the nervous system. He is actively involved in developing better ways to diagnose and prognosticate for patients with these disorders. He has led an effort to improve biorepository development and has created uniform protocols for sample handling and analysis. As part of this initiative his research has identified novel biomarkers that may be able to distinguish between patients with various neurologic disorders. He also coordinates trials that study new treatments to prevent neurologic damage and restore function to those who have already been affected. He currently serves as the Director of the Neurosciences Clinical Research Center and is a Cain Denius Foundation Scholar.

Lana Harder, PhD, ABPP

Assistant Professor at UT Southwestern Medical Center, Department of Psychiatry, Neurology and Neurotherapeutics, Dallas, TX

Dr. Lana Harder completed her doctoral training at the University of Texas in Austin, Texas and completed her pre-doctoral internship at the Kennedy Krieger Institute and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland.  She completed her post-doctoral fellowship in Pediatric Neuropsychology at Texas Children’s Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.  Since 2008, Dr. Harder has served as a Clinical Neuropsychologist at Children’s Medical Center Dallas (CMCD) and as Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Assistant Professor of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.  She is board certified in Clinical Neuropsychology and specializes in the neuropsychological evaluation of pediatric patients, from infancy to young adults, with disorders of the central nervous system.  Dr. Harder serves as the neuropsychologist for the CMCD Pediatric Demyelinating Diseases Clinic.  Research interests include cognitive and psychosocial outcomes for pediatric multiple sclerosis (MS), transverse myelitis (TM), acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM), clinically isolated syndrome (CIS), and neuromyelitis optica (NMO).

Anu Jacob, MBBS, MD, MRCP, DM

Consultant Neurologist at Walton Centre for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Liverpool, UK

Dr. Anu Jacob is a Consultant Neurologist at the Walton Centre in Liverpool and at the Glan Clwyd Hospital in North Wales. He is also the Clinical Lead at Buxton Neuroimmunological Laboratory and the National Lead for the UK NMO Service. He graduated in 1995 and obtained his MD degree soon thereafter.  He specialized in Neurology in important centers in the UK, India and USA and has worked with the world’s most eminent neurologists. His clinical interests include MS and other demyelinating disorders including neuromyelitis optica, transverse myelitis, acute disseminated encephalomyelitis and optic neuritis. Dr. Jacob is a member of the Association of British Neurologists, Royal College of Physicians, London and American Academy of Neurologists.


Adam I. Kaplin, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology and Chief Psychiatric Consultant at the Johns Hopkins Multiple Sclerosis and Transverse Myelitis Centers at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, MD

Adam Kaplin, MD, PhD is the Principle Psychiatric Consultant to the Johns Hopkins Multiple Sclerosis and Transverse Myelitis Centers of Excellence. He is a Yale Undergraduate and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine trained Neuropsychiatrist who runs the MS and TM Neuropsychiatric Consultation Clinic, does research on the biological basis of mood disorders and cognitive impairment in CNS autoimmune disorders, and investigates novel therapies for patients suffering from CNS autoimmune diseases. He also works at Johns Hopkins to develop and improve technological innovations to enhance psychiatric care and decrease stigma surrounding mental illness.

scientific-council-douglasDouglas A. Kerr, MD, PhD

Director, Experimental Neurology at Biogen Idec, Boston, MA

Dr. Douglas Kerr, M.D., Ph.D. M.B.A serves as Senior Medical Director of Neurology Research and Development at Biogen-Idec, where Dr. Kerr is responsible for late stage neurodegenerative programs, focusing on motor neuron disorders ALS and SMA. Prior to joining Biogen Idec in 2009, Dr. Kerr served on the faculty of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine where was an Associate Professor of Neurology with joint appointments in the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology and Cellular and Molecular Medicine. There he specialized in autoimmune transverse myelitis and multiple sclerosis as well as SMA and ALS. Dr. Kerr also worked on stem cells as a therapeutic tool for functional recovery in patients with TM and motor neuron diseases.  Dr. Kerr established the Johns Hopkins Transverse Myelitis Center which was the only such center at the time, and also founded and directed the Johns Hopkins Project RESTORE, a multidisciplinary effort dedicated to advancement of treatments for autoimmune neurologic disorders. In 2006, Dr. Kerr was awarded the Derek Denny-Brown Young Neurological Scholar Award from the American Neurological Association as one who “has achieved a significant stature in neurological research and whose promise of continuing major contributions to the field of neurology is anticipated.”

scientific-council-charlesCharles E. Levy, MD

Chief, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Service, North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health Service Associate Professor, Occupational Therapy, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL

Charles E. Levy, MD is the Chief of the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Service, and Associate Director of the Rehabilitation Outcomes Research Center at North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System (NF/SG VHS) and is an adjunct Associate Professor, Dept. of Occupational Therapy, College of Public Health and Health Professions, University of Florida. In addition, Dr. Levy is the Principal Investigator of Virtual Environments for Therapeutic Solutions (VETS) MTBI/PTSD Phase II.  Ongoing interests include wheeled mobility, and the use of interactive virtual world environments and virtual humans to treat cognitive and affective impairments in returning combat veterans.  Dr. Levy is also active as Chairman of the Advisory Board for the Center for Arts in Healthcare, Research and Education at the University of Florida, and a Charter Member of the Advisory Board for the College of Orthotics and Prosthetics at St. Petersburg College.

MLevyMichael Levy, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor of Neurology at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and Medical Director of General Neurology at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD

Dr. Levy specializes in taking care of patients with neuroimmunologic diseases including multiple sclerosis, transverse myelitis, optic neuritis and neuromyelitis optica. In the laboratory, Dr. Levy¹s research focus is on the development of neural stems for regenerative therapy in these diseases. He uses rat and mouse models to test the survival, differentiation and functional capacity of human neural stem cells to improve neurologic function in post-inflammatory conditions. The goal of his laboratory and clinical effort is to translate the basic science stem cell work to a human trial in transverse myelitis and other neuroimmunologic diseases.

scientific-council-joanneJoanne D. Lynn, MD

Associate Professor of Neurology and a staff neurologist in the Neuroimmunology division at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus, OH

Dr. Joanne Lynn is currently Associate Professor of Neurology and a staff neurologist in the Neuroimmunology division.   She received her undergraduate degree at Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts.  She graduated from The Ohio State University College of Medicine in 1984, and completed residencies in internal medicine and neurology at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, New York.   She returned to The Ohio State University for two years of neuromuscular fellowship and has been on the medical staff at The Ohio State University since 1992.  Dr. Lynn, named one of the “Best Doctors in America” in 2005, is board certified in Internal Medicine and Neurology. Dr. Lynn’s primary clinical and research interest is multiple sclerosis and she has participated in studies of disease modifying and symptomatic therapies for MS.

Maureen A. Mealy, RN, BSN, MSCN

Clinical Program Manager, Johns Hopkins Transverse Myelitis Center and Neuromyelitis Optica Clinic, Baltimore, MD

Maureen Mealy is a certified Clinical Neuroscience Registered Nurse and a Multiple Sclerosis Certified Nurse. She has longstanding experience in neurosciences as she began her nursing career in the Neurosciences Critical Care Unit at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and later joined the Johns Hopkins Multiple Sclerosis, Transverse Myelitis, and Encephalitis Centers in January of 2007. Ms. Mealy then moved to Dallas along with Dr. Benjamin Greenberg, former co-Director of the Johns Hopkins Transverse Myelitis Center, to establish the Transverse Myelitis and Neuromyelitis Optica Program at the University of Texas Southwestern University and Pediatric Demyelinating Disorders at Children’s Medical Center of Dallas in January of 2009.

More recently, Ms. Mealy rejoined Johns Hopkins and teamed up with Drs. Carlos Pardo and Michael Levy, where she currently acts as the Program Manager, Clinical Research Coordinator, and Senior Nurse of the Transverse Myelitis Center and Neuromyelitis Optica Clinic. Patient, family, and community education about these rare neuroimmunologic disorders of the central nervous system are a key part of her role in the Center and community.

Additionally, Ms. Mealy has greatly expanded her commitment is actively involved in research of transverse myelitis and neuromyelitis optica. Her research interests lie in the impact of vitamin D on neuroimmunologic diseases, creating algorithms for management of acute inflammatory myelopathy, and exploring epidemiologic factors that influence neuromyelitis optica.


Carlos A. Pardo-Villamizar, MD

Associate Professor of Neurology (Division of Neuroimmunology and Neuroinfectious Disorders) and Pathology (Neuropathology) at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland.

Dr. Pardo is an Associate Professor of Neurology (Division of Neuroimmunology and Neuroinfectious Disorders) and Pathology (Neuropathology) at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland. He is the principal investigator of the Neuroimmunopathology Laboratory, member of the HIV Neurosciences Research Group and clinical neurologist at the Multiple Sclerosis and Transverse Myelitis Centers at Johns Hopkins Hospital. His clinical specialization is on neuroimmunological and Infectious disorders of the nervous system, with particular focus on multiple sclerosis, transverse myelitis, neurosarcoidosis, and neurological complications of autoimmune disorders.

scientific-council-frankFrank S. Pidcock, MD

Associate Professor of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Associate Director of Rehabilitation at Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, MD

Dr. Pidcock is a graduate of Hahnemann Medical College (1977). He earned his undergraduate degree in Natural Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University (1973).

His clinical interests include the use of botulinum toxin injections to treat children with spasticity and the development of constraint induced therapies to improve the use of hemiparetic upper limbs. Other areas of interest for Dr. Pidcock include the rehabilitation of children with pediatric transverse myelitis and chronic graft vs. host disease.

Jerome de Seze, PhD

Professor, Neurology and Head of the neuroimmunological department, Strasbourg hospital, France.

Dr. de Seze has a PhD in Immunology and specializes in MS, NMO, transverse myelitis and neuro-ophtalmology.  He is also the head of the clinical research center (CIC) of the Strasbourg hospital, and a co-leader of the research team of biopathology of the myelin in the LINC (laboratory of imaging and neurocognitive sciences from the CNRS, national center of scientific research).  Dr. deSeze’s main research interest is in inflammatory and autoimmune diseases of CNS and PNS and Neuro-ophtalmology.  He has published more than 200 papers.  He is also the vice president of the Club Francophone de la sclerose en plaques (MS French society) and a member of the French neurological society and the French neuro-ophthalmological club (CNOF).

Kathleen Zackowski, PhD, OTR

Kennedy Krieger Institute and Johns Hopkins Department of Rehabilitation, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Baltimore, MD

Dr. Zackowski is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Neurology at the Kennedy Krieger Institute/Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. She is certified as a Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Specialist and works as the sole Occupational Therapist at the Johns Hopkins MS Center. Dr. Zackowski’s research interests are to investigate the mechanisms that underlie sensorimotor impairments and disability resulting from damage to the central nervous system so as to improve disability. To this point her studies have focused on the motor control problems that occur as a result of neurodegenerative disease processes such as multiple sclerosis and adrenomyeloneuropathy. She is developing a model using advanced neuro-imaging in combination with quantitative impairment measures to understand pathologically relevant structure-function relationships. Dr. Zackowski’s current studies investigate the extent that nerve fiber changes in the brain and spinal cord are associated with changes in walking and physical impairments such as strength and sensation. This type of model is critical for tracking disease progression and evaluating rehabilitative and pharmacologic treatments for people with neurodegenerative diseases.

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