Multiple Sclerosis Center and Research Program in Neuroimmunology

The Multiple Sclerosis Center and Research Program in Neuroimmunology is actively engaged in numerous clinical studies and trials, including a novel single center trial of extracorporeal photopheresis in secondary progressive multiple sclerosis. The Neuroimmunology Research Program consists of three interactive wet bench laboratories, overseen by our Drs. Irani and Mao-Draayer. Ongoing research includes studies in human immunology and animal models of multiple sclerosis, as well as mechanistic sub-studies of clinical trials.

Our Team

The collective laboratory personnel includes five technicians, four graduate students, six postdoctoral fellows/research scientists and a specimen bank manager.

Autoimmunity Center of Excellence 

Dr. Mao-Draayer is the investigator in the U-M Autoimmunity Center of Excellence, recently established by an award from the NIAID, NIH. 

Success in Grant Support 

The U-M Multiple Sclerosis Center has been successful in gaining grant support from the NIH, Veteran’s Administration, several non-profit organizations, including the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, as well as industry. Currently, we have received the following funding: 

  • Four NIH funded projects 
  • Two Veteran's Administration funded projects 
  • Four National Multiple Sclerosis Society projects 


Among their other accomplishments, multiple sclerosis faculty members have published 25 studies in high impact, peer-reviewed journals over the past two years. Significant accomplishments of the U-M Neuroimmunology Research Program include the following:

  • The demonstration, in animal models of multiple sclerosis, that clinically similar forms of demyelinating disease can be driven by distinct cellular and molecular pathways that translate into different responsiveness to disease modifying modifications
  • The detection of heterogeneous cytokine profiles among patients with multiple sclerosis that are stable over long time intervals
  • The discovery that immune dysregulation is evident in individuals in the secondary progressive, as well as in relapsing remitting, stages of multiple sclerosis, and that the nature of aberrant autoimmune responses may evolve over the clinical course
  • Investigations into the neuroprotective/ regenerative aspects of immune responses that might be harnessed to attenuate, and even reverse, nervous system damage in multiple sclerosis and other disorders
  • The finding that obstructive sleep apnea is highly prevalent in people with multiple sclerosis and is a significant contributor to fatigue.