NeuroNetwork for Emerging Therapies faculty Melissa Elafros

Melissa Elafros, MD, PhD

Andrea and Lawrence A. Wolfe Research Professor
Assistant Professor of Neurology
Department of Neurology
5015 BSRB
Ann Arbor MI 48109-2200
Epidemiology and Neurologic Care

Understanding the prevalence and burden of neurologic disorders and improving access to neurologic care for resource-limited populations

Improving patient and provider understanding of neuropathy and diabetes

With a focus on improving access to quality neurologic care for resource-limited populations in the U.S. and in low-middle-income countries, Dr. Elafros uses epidemiologic, health services, and clinical research aimed at determining risk factors for neurologic morbidity and mortality in these settings.

Since joining the NeuroNetwork, Dr. Elafros’ research efforts have evolved to include a setting closer to home – Flint, Michigan – where she has established a cohort study examining peripheral neuropathy with collaborators at Hurley Medical Center Outpatient Internal Medicine Residency Clinic. This work examines the prevalence and risk factors of peripheral neuropathy in this predominantly non-Hispanic Black, low-income patient population. Her team has identified a high prevalence of undiagnosed neuropathy related to diabetes and other traditional risk factors and is expanding its work to McLaren Flint Outpatient Internal Medicine Residency Group Practice. They will also begin to look at the prevalence of other undiagnosed neurologic conditions, such as cognitive impairment. The team’s goal is to eventually develop interventions for patients and providers to improve the diagnosis and management of these disorders in order to improve the overall quality of life.

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Since 2009, she has worked in Zambia examining barriers to care for neurologic disease. Her doctoral dissertation research examined stigma related to HIV and epilepsy, and how that stigma impacted access to care. Subsequent studies examine barriers to essential diagnostic procedures, in particular, lumbar puncture for patients with suspected meningitis. This work was funded by the American Academy of Neurology and the American Neurological Association for its potential to transform care for patients in this region. Dr. Elafros continues to work with colleagues in Zambia on capacity-building efforts to improve the diagnosis and management of neurologic diseases in sub-Saharan Africa.


  • BS, Human Biology, Michigan State University Lyman Briggs College, 2008
  • BA, Spanish, Michigan State University, 2008
  • MA, Bioethics, Michigan State University, 2008
  • PhD, Epidemiology, Michigan State University, 2014
  • MD, Michigan State University, 2016
  • Internship, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, 2017
  • Residency, Adult Neurology, Johns Hopkins Hospital, 2020
  • Fellowship, Neuromuscular Medicine, University of Michigan, 2021

Honors & Awards

  • 2021-2022 NeuroNext Fellowship Recipient
  • CoMET Medical Education Fellowship Recipient, Michigan Medicine, 2021
  • Johns Hopkins Center for Global Health’s Paul S. Lietman Global Health Travel Grant, 2019
  • American Academy of Neurology Resident Research Scholarship, 2019
  • American Neurological Association 2018 International Outreach Travel Scholarship

Top Publications

MA Elafros, H Anderson, DL Bennett, MG Savelieff, V Viswanathan, BC Callaghan, EL Feldman. Clinical presentation, pathogenesis, and treatment of diabetic neuropathy. Lancet Neurology, 2022; 21:922-936.

MA Elafros, BC Callaghan, LE Skolarus, L Vileikyte, JG Lawrenson, EL Feldman. Patient and Health Care Provider Knowledge of Diabetes and Diabetic Microvascular Complications: A Comprehensive Literature Review. Reviews in Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders. 2022: DOI: 10.1007/s11154-022-09754-5.

MA Elafros, C Bwalya, G Muchanga, M Mwale, N Namukanga, GL Birbeck, M Chomba, A Mugala-Mulenga, MP Kvalsund, I Sikazwe, D Saylor, P Winch. A qualitative study of factors resulting in care delays for adults with meningitis in Zambia. Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene. 2022:trac049. DOI:10.1093/trstmh/trac049. PMID: 3565307.

MA Elafros, BA Johnson, OK Siddiqi, JF Okulicz, I Sikazwe, CM Bositis, MJ Potchen, IJ Koralnik, WH Theodore, L Kalungwana, GL Birbeck. Mortality & Recurrent Seizure Risk after New-Onset Seizure in HIV-Positive Zambian Adults. BMC Neurology 2018; 18(201). PMID: 30522451. PMCID: PMC6284303. DOI: 10.1186/s12883-018-1205-2.

JM Turan*, MA Elafros*, CH Logie, S Banik, B Turan, KB Crockett, B Pescosolido, S Murray. Challenges and opportunities in examining and addressing intersectional stigma and health. BMC Medicine 2019; 17(7). PMID: 30764816. PMCID: PMC6376691. DOI: 10.1186/s12916-018-1246-9.
*Co-first authors