The Neuroimmunology and Multiple Sclerosis Fellowship at UAB provides an opportunity for neurologists with an interest in clinical neuroimmunology to develop specialized expertise in patient care and research for individuals with MS and related disorders. Fellows may tailor the fellowship to their own interests and career plans under the mentorship of faculty from the Division of Neuroimmunology, and are encouraged to develop collaborations across campus with experts from a range of clinical and academic disciplines.
A central component of the clinical training program for MS Fellows is the time spent caring for patients at UAB’s Kirklin Clinic. Fellows provide consultation and follow-up care for their own patients while working under the supervision of one or more MS faculty members. By managing their own clinics, Fellows develop expertise in the diagnosis and ongoing management of MS and other neuroimmunological disorders. Fellows are expected to apply their knowledge about diagnostic tests and therapeutic agents to deliver high quality care in the clinical setting and to develop an appreciation for the psychosocial issues and individual factors which make clinical care both an art and a science. Fellows will also develop familiarity with the monitoring requirements for immune modulating agents, approaches to symptom management, management of relapses, and the recognition when referral for specialty services is required.
UAB offers a full range of state-of-the-art facilities and equipment for diagnostic studies including cranial and spinal magnetic resonance imaging and evoked potential testing. Patients requiring inpatient treatment will be supervised in part by neuroimmunology fellows, and a full range of treatment options are available including IV corticosteroids, plasma exchange, cytotoxic agents, and IVIG.
In addition to maintaining a continuity clinic, Fellows may arrange to work with specialists in Neuro-Ophthalmology, Physiatry and Rehabilitation, Neuro-Urology, and other clinical specialists allied with the care of MS patients. UAB also hosts the Center for Pediatric Onset Demyelinating Disease (CPODD), one of the few pediatric demyelinating disease centers in the US and the only one in the Southeast region. Fellows may also be exposed to specialty services such as baclofen pump management and use of botox for management of spasticity.
Advances in neuroimmunological therapeutics have transformed the treatment of MS by enabling clinicians to fundamentally alter the natural history of the disease. However, a cure for MS remains elusive, and opportunities to further subdue MS disease activity and improve the lives of patients living with the disorder remain abundant.
In the spirit of this climate of progress and innovation surrounding MS, UAB offers a diverse array of research opportunities for MS fellows. Over the course of a fellowship, trainees are encouraged to develop collaborations with basic scientists, clinical researchers, and biostatisticians to develop their own research projects and enact them under the mentorship of their faculty mentor(s).
UAB already hosts multiple ongoing research endeavors focused on MS. The Division of Neuroimmunology is involved with multiple clinical trials of MS and related disorders; the UAB School of Public Health hosts the North American Research Committee on Multiple Sclerosis (NARCOMS) patient registry which affords access to an enormous body of MS patient volunteers; and researchers from the basic sciences, physical medicine and rehabilitation, and psychology have all received funding from the NIH, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the National MS Society to support their efforts. UAB also hosts a monthly National MS Society-sponsored Collaborative Research Center meeting which encourages cross-disciplinary communication about research in which investigators from across campus can share their works in progress with one another.
In addition to clinical experience, Fellows learn about the diagnosis and management of MS through directed readings on MS and neuro-immunological topics which extend over the course of their training. Fellows are expected to familiarize themselves with the current state of treatment in MS, and also to be aware of promising research which will shape the care of MS patients in the future.
In addition to the basic curriculum, MS Fellows will participate in other MS or clinical research-focused educational opportunities both on and off campus. These include the following:
Neuroimmunology Journal Club
Monthly meetings of the journal club bring together clinicians, statisticians, and basic researchers to discuss recent literature pertaining to MS and neuroimmunology. Fellows are expected to regularly contribute.
Center for Clinical and Translational Science Training Programs
The UAB Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS) offers a variety of courses and workshops designed to educate clinician scientists in the conduct of clinical and translational workshop. For example, the Clinical and Translational Science Training Program is a 6-month course in which trainees complete modules on clinical trials, epidemiology, biostatistics, ethics, and grant writing, among other topics.
UAB Multiple Sclerosis Symposium
Every two years, UAB hosts a regional MS Symposium to which speakers from UAB and across the country are invited to present on topics related to MS. Clinicians and researchers from across the southeast region have attended the symposium in past years. Fellows may be asked to contribute in a speaking role.
Fellows may also elect to complete coursework on campus which augments their clinical and research endeavors. For example, Fellows may find semester-long courses on Biostatistics or Epidemiology, offered through the School of Public Health, to be of benefit.
For additional information about the fellowship, please contact:
John R Rinker, II, MD
Director, Neuroimmunology and Multiple Sclerosis Fellowship Program
Associate Professor of Neurology
University of Alabama at Birmingham
1720 7th Avenue South, Sparks Center, Suite 440
Birmingham, AL 35294-0017
P: (205) 934-2402
F: (205) 975-6030
Applicants should prepare a packet of materials and forward them to the Fellowship Director, to include the following:
- A Personal Statement that includes:
- Reasons for Application
- Career Plans
- How the Fellowship will Promote Your Career
- Letters of recommendation from three faculty references familiar with your professional abilities. One letter should be from your program’s Neurology Program Director or Department Chair.
Once accepted, we will work with applicants to identify internal or external sources of funding to cover the costs of training.