Neuroimmunology/Multiple Sclerosis Fellowship

Our neuroimmunology/MS fellowship offers active participation by fellows in a program that combines clinical patient care and investigation in an environment that has immunopathogenesis of demyelinating disease as its principle focus.


Clinical Care

Fellows are directly involved in management of MS patients in the outpatient clinic at the UAB Kirklin clinic where an average of six-eight new (to our practice) and about 50 follow-up MS patients are seen every week. Fellows also supervise the inpatient care of MS patients admitted to the University of Alabama Hospital. Treatment programs exist for intrathecal baclofen therapy for MS patients with severe spasticity; intravenous mitoxantrone or cyclophosphamide pulsed therapy for patients with rapidly progressive disease, and treatment of osteoporosis program for at risk MS patients. State-of-the-art facilities and equipment are available for diagnostic studies and treatment. Cranial and spinal magnetic resonance imaging, MR spectroscopy, the full range of clinical neurophysiologic testing, conventional and special tests on cerebrospinal fluid and other laboratory methods are utilized. Treatments offered consist of glucocorticoids, immunomodulatory agents, immunosuppressants, intravenous immunoglobulin, and therapeutic plasma exchange (plasmapharesis).

In addition, patients with myasthenia gravis, the Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome, Guillain-Barre syndrome, chronic demyelinating polyneuropathy, sarcoidosis, neuroBehcet's disease, paraneoplastic syndromes, vasculitides, inflammatory myopathies and other neuroimmunologic disorders are assessed and managed.

Research

Basic and clinical investigations are performed. The former consists of immunologic and treatment aspects of experimental allergic encephalomyelitis, immunological and structural studies of the idiotypic network in demyelinating disease, immunochemical features of myelin basic protein, and the relationship of myelin basic protein-like material and para-cresol sulfate in body fluids (cerebrospinal fluid, serum and urine) of persons with MS during phases (relapse or remission) and different states (stable, relapsing-remitting or progressive) of disease. New programs of research are in magnetic resonance spectroscopy and demyelinating disease. The clinical trials related to MS currently in progress or recently concluded include studies of interferon beta agents in secondary progressive MS, glatiramer acetate in primary progressive MS, and oral agents or combination treatment in relapsing-remitting MS. Additionally, two to three multicenter clinical and epidemiological trials are currently being planned for the study of long-term and symptomatic care of patients with MS. A NIH-sponsored General Clinical Research Center is available for approved investigations.

Other Educational Activities

In addition to the clinical and research activities, fellows may participate in the following educational and training activities:

K30 Clinical Research Training Program (CRTP)

Fellows are expected to participate in the Clinical Research Training Program at UAB. CRTP is a NIH K30 award given to UAB to provide didactic and practical training to young and promising clinical researchers. Trainees are selected from campus-wide health professions-related schools for a two-year training program. The first year consists of didactic lectures, which are held for two hours every week. During the second year of training, in addition to lectures, trainees are required to design and conduct a clinical research project under the mentorship of an established clinical investigator.

Master's in Public Health (M.P.H.)

A formal educational program is offered for interested fellows through the School of Public Health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham with courses designed for advanced training in clinical research. This course work has its primary emphasis on training interested individuals in epidemiology, biostatistics and clinical trial design. Fellows are expected to complete this course work leading towards a M.P.H. degree in two years.

Neuroimaging Training

During fellowship, fellows read neuroimaging studies, cranial and spinal CT and MRI, under the supervision of experienced clinicians. Possibility exists for candidates interested in more extensive neuroimaging training to have elective time with American Society for Neuroimaging Society certified neurologists. This training is sufficient to fulfill the requirements for the MRI/CT examination of the American Society for Neuroimaging.

Multiple Sclerosis Study Group

UAB Multiple Sclerosis Study Group consists of neurologists, nurse coordinators and a data coordinator involved in MS research. This group meets monthly to discuss the progress and currently active and future clinical trials. Fellows actively participate in these group discussions.

Journal Club Seminar

Journal club seminar is held every week, during which recently published articles related to MS are presented, discussed and critiqued. Fellows take their turn in presenting articles related to clinical and basic investigations in MS for the group.

Collaborating with Investigators

Fellows are encouraged to interact with other investigators involved in research on demyelinating diseases. These investigators include:

E. N. Benveniste, Ph.D.

(cytokine and inflammatory demyelination)

J. E. Blalock, Ph.D.

(structural correlates of idiotypes)

Scott Barnum, Ph.D.

(cytokine and complement in demyelinating disease)

Expectations

During the course of the fellowship, the fellows have frequent discussions with Dr. Bashir as well as other members of the neuroimmunology group related to anti-inflammatory, symptomatic, and long-term treatment pertaining to MS. Through this extensive training program, it is expected that fellows will accumulate extensive experience in the design and conduct of clinical trials in MS, an in-depth understanding of the range of immunopathological research on MS, and ability to function independently and successfully as clinical investigators in MS.

To Apply

Application components:

  1. CV
  2. A personal statement that includes:
    • Reasons for application
    • Career plans
    • How the fellowship will promote your career
  3. Letters of recommendation from three faculty references, preferably from their knowledge of your professional abilities. One letter should be from your Neurology Residency Program Director or Department Chair.

Please send your application and reference letters to:

Khurram Bashir, M.D., M.P.H.
Director, Neuroimmunology and Multiple Sclerosis Program
Associate Professor, Department of Neurology
University of Alabama at Birmingham
1720 7th Avenue South, Sparks Center, Suite 440F
Birmingham AL 35294-0017
P: (205) 934-2402
F: (205) 975-6030
kbashir@uab.edu



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