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Speakers Series February-2023

AE Awareness Month_website (1)

AE  Awareness Month

Speakers Series 2023

A Star-studded lineup of experts in the field of Autoimmune Neurology joined us throughout  the month.  This empowering series will help you gain a strong understanding of AE, assist you in having impoved communication with your doctor, and help you become a stronger self- advocate.

Education is Power.

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Bruce Cree, MD, PhD, MAS

Professor, Neurology UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences

Topic: Treatments in Autoimmune Encephalitis 

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Dr. Cree gave an overview of autoimmune encephalitis with a focus on treatments. Dr. Cree completed his MD and PhD in Biochemistry at UCSF. His neurology residency training was at Columbia University. He returned to UCSF for a Sylvia Lawry National Multiple Sclerosis Society fellowship and received a Masters in Advanced Studies in Clinical Research. He is the Clinical Research Director at the UCSF MS Center. He divides his time between patient care, clinical research and teaching.

Marianna Spatola, MD, PhD

Neurologist, Neuroimmunologist

Topic:  Autoimmune Encephalitis

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Dr. Spatola geared her presentation toward our patient/caregiver audiance in a way that a layperson could best follow and understand. You will walk away feeling in much more control of understanding a complex disease. Dr. Spatola has been a Research fellow in basic and clinical neuroimmunology at IDIBAPS (August
Pi i Sunyer Biomedical Research Institute), Neuroimmunology laboratory (Head
Prof. J Dalmau), and University Clinical Hospital (Head Prof. F Graus), Barcelona,
Spain, since March 2015.

Eoin Flanagan, M.B., B.Ch.

Neuroimmunology/Neurology Mayo Clinic

Topic: Autoimmune Encephalitis Misdiagnosis in Adults


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Learn how Autoimmune Encephalitis is diagnosed and misdiagnosed. A broad range of disorders are misdiagnosed as autoimmune encephalitis and misdiagnosis occurs in many settings including at specialized centers.  Dr. Flanagan will review his et al recently published work, a case series of 107 outpatients misdiagnosed with autoimmune encephalitis. Identified red flags suggesting alternative diagnoses included an insidious onset, positive nonspecific serum antibody, and failure to fulfill autoimmune encephalitis diagnostic criteria. Autoimmune encephalitis misdiagnosis leads to morbidity from unnecessary immunotherapies and delayed treatment of the correct diagnosis.

Dr. Eoin Flanagan is an Associate Professor of Neurology and Consultant in the departments of Neurology and Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at the Mayo Clinic (Rochester, MN). His clinical expertise and research are focused on the diagnosis and management of autoimmune neurological disorders with an emphasis on inflammatory autoimmune spinal cord disorders and their mimics including their MRI patterns. He also has an interest in the epidemiology of inflammatory demyelinating diseases of the central nervous system and autoimmune neurologic disorders.


Jonathan D. Santoro, MD

Medical Director, Neuroimmunology and Demyelinating Disorders Program Attending Physician, Division of Neurology, Children's Hospital LA, Calif ., Assistant Professor of Neurology, Keck School of Medicine of USC

Topic: Pediatric Autoimmune Encephalitis

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This presentation takes us through prevalence, explains what happens in the central nervous system when onset begins, and prevalent symptoms from the prodromal presentation to full-blown disease. How pediatric AE presents differently from adult cases, how it is diagnosed and red flags to watch out for. An extensive discussion on treatments and treatment plans/protocols is reviewed. There is a clinical Question and Answer period at the end of the presentation.

Dr. Santoro completed his undergraduate, masters, and medical degrees at Tulane University. He subsequently completed residencies in pediatrics and child neurology at Stanford University School of Medicine and subsequently had sub-specialty training in neuroimmunology and pediatric multiple sclerosis at Harvard Medical School. Santoro is a passionate clinician-scientist who has published over 50 peer-reviewed manuscripts. Santoro is one of only a handful of national clinician-scientists who treat neurologic disorders associated with Down syndrome.

Grace Tworek, Psy.D.

Clinical Health Psychologist, Cleveland Clinic

Topic: The Role of Behavioral Medicine in Autoimmune Encephalitis Care: Supportive services for the patient, caregiver, and family members over the long-term


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Dr. Tworek is a clinical health psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, OH. She completed her graduate training at Nova Southeastern University in South Florida, where she developed a passion for health psychology and providing psychology services to those managing medical diagnoses. She completed her fellowship within the Mellen Center for Multiple Sclerosis at the Cleveland Clinic. It was through working with the dedicated team of neurologists at CCF that she developed a passion for the unique needs and opportunities to provide support and therapeutic services to those diagnosed with autoimmune encephalitis. Through the support of the Mellen center, she is working toward expanding behavioral medicine services to the AE patient population to include inpatient hospitalizations, outpatient follow up, and caregiver support.


Claude Steriade, MD,CM

Neurologist, NYU Langone Hospitals

Topic: Autoimmune Epilepsy

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If you have seizures with AE, this is a must watch presentation. Geared toward patients and caregivers, this presentations is hands down the best we have ever heard.

Dr. Claude Steriade is s a neurologist From the New York University School of medicine and is affiliated with the NYU Langone Hospitals. She gained an interest in AE when she was a resident and had an LGI1 patient who responded well to immunotherapy.

She then went on to do a Fellowship in Epilepsy, she decided to marry those two interests. In addition to her Epilepsy Fellowship, she joined on some autoimmune neurology clinics – the Cleveland clinic and gained some clinical experience there.

She noticed that there was a relative overlap between the two fields with a lot of AE patients who developed seizures. So, whenever she was on the continuous EEG rotation, she would review EEGs and find overlap that was interesting and relevant – which triggered her interest in Autoimmune Epilepsy. Which has become an area that married all of her interests.

She is a published researcher on the topic and has fast become an expert in her field and one her peers rely on.

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