portrait of NeuroNetwork for Emerging Therapies faculty Dr. Benjamin Murdock

Benjamin Murdock, PhD

Robert A. Epstein and Joan M. Chernoff-Epstein Emerging Scholar
Research Assistant Professor of Neurology
Graduate Student Advisory Committee, Department of Immunology
Department of Neurology
5017 BSRB
Ann Arbor MI 48109-2200
Immune System in ALS

Targeting the immune system to treat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Dr. Murdock is interested in the immune system’s responses in ALS patient blood samples and ALS mouse models, and he is particularly focused on two types of cells - natural killer (NK) cells and CD4 T cells - and their roles in controlling ALS progression. NK cells protect the body from infection and cancer, but also kill dying cells. Research has also found that the molecule that protects the body from its own NK cells is missing in motor neurons during ALS, and that the number of NK cells increases dramatically as ALS progresses. Conversely, CD4 T cells, the master control cells of the immune system, disappear from the blood during ALS, and studies in mice demonstrate that loss of CD4 T cells dramatically accelerates the rate of disease. Dr. Murdock is therefore attempting to slow ALS progression by interfering with NK cell function or by enhancing CD4 T cells. His findings have led to preclinical ALS studies utilizing a currently FDA-approved drug, and if successful, this drug will be tested in clinical trials in ALS patients. Dr. Murdock has obtained a patent on the use of this drug in ALS patients if these trials are successful.


  • BS, Microbiology, Immunology & Molecular Genetics, University of California Los Angeles, 2003
  • PhD, Immunology, University of Michigan, 2010
  • Postdoctoral fellowship, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, University of Michigan
  • Postdoctoral fellowship, Neurology, University of Michigan

Top Publications

Murdock BJ, Bender DE, Segal BM, Feldman EL. (2015) The dual roles of immunity in ALS: injury overrides protection. Neurobiol Dis. 2015 May;77:1-12. PMID: 25726748

Murdock BJ, Zhou T, Kashlan SR, Little RJ, Goutman SA, Feldman EL.  (2017) Correlation of Peripheral Immunity With Rapid Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Progression. JAMA Neurology. 2017 Dec 1;74(12):1446-1454. PMCID: PMC5822195

Figueroa-Romero C, Guo K, Murdock BJ, Paez-Colasante X (co-first authors), Bassis CM, Mikhail KA, Raue KD, Evans MC, Taubman GF, McDermott AJ, O'Brien PD, Savelieff MG, Hur J, Feldman EL. (2019) Temporal evolution of the microbiome, immune system and epigenome with disease progression in ALS mice. Dis Model Mech. 2019; 13(2):pii:dmm041947. PMCID: PMC6906635

Murdock BJ, Goutman SA, Boss J, Kim S, Feldman EL.  (2021) Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Survival Associates with Neutrophils in a Sex-specific Manner. Neurol Neuroimmunol Neuroinflamm. 2021 Feb 2;8(2):e953. PMCID: PMC8057067

Murdock BJ, Famie JP, Piecuch CE, Raue KD, Mendelson FE, Pieroni CH, Iniguez SD, Zhao L, Goutman SA, Feldman EL.  (2021) NK cells associate with ALS in a sex- and age-dependent manner. JCI Insight 2021;6(11):1-16. PMCID: PMC8262328