Newswise — Dr. Francisco J. Quintana, PhD, Professor of Neurology at Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, is the winner of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Barancik Prize for Innovation in MS Research.

While the genetic origins of MS are becoming better understood, it’s less known how environmental factors—such as pollutants, diet and intestinal bacteria—might contribute to MS and its progression. It is also not yet known how risk factors influence the immune system to attack the central nervous system. To address these questions, Dr. Quintana uses cutting-edge technologies to study the regulation of immune responses and inflammation in MS, molecular changes that trigger MS and environmental factors that influence disease activity.

Through a series of high-impact publications, Dr. Quintana’s work has contributed new tools to further the work of the MS research community. His research has led to potential drugs for treating progressive MS, and has contributed to the development of a designer treatment called nanoparticles to control autoimmune activity. He recently developed anti-inflammatory synthetic engineered probiotics as a novel approach to MS therapy, and his team is currently licensing these probiotics to a new biotech for their clinical testing.

”I recently completed what is so far the largest single-cell analysis of central nervous system cells in MS and EAE models… Since this work generated one of the largest datasets currently available, it provides a unique resource for the study of the CNS in health and disease,” Dr. Quintana said. “Thus, we expect these datasets and novel methods to have a deep impact on MS research.”

As for future research plans, Dr. Quintana will serve as the lead researcher on an international collaboration to develop a pipeline to identify the origins of progressive MS and new or repurposed drugs to treat it. His long-term goal is to identify mechanisms of disease pathogenesis and develop therapies for progressive MS.

Dr. Quintana will receive the Barancik Prize and deliver the Prize lecture at the ACTRIMS Forum. ACTRIMS Forum brings together more than 1,200 researchers and clinicians annually to share developments in the rapidly changing field of MS. The 2020 Forum will be held Feb. 27-29, 2020, in West Palm Beach, Florida. Themed “Networks in MS,” this CME-accredited meeting stands apart from many traditional medical meetings by offering a single track of scientific and clinical presentations in an interactive environment. More information about ACTRIMS Forum appears on the event’s website. Follow the event at #ACTRIMS.

Dr. Quintana earned a diploma in biology from the University of Buenos Aires and a Ph.D. in immunology from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel. He completed his postdoctoral training with a focus on neuroimmunology at the Weizmann Institute and at BWH. Among his many awards are Young Investigator Awards in Ireland and Italy, a Pathway to Independence Award from NIAID/NIH, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s 2014 Harry Weaver Research Scholar Award and 2017 Milestones in MS Research Award. The recipient of the 2016 Young Mentor Award from Harvard Medical School, he has trained more than 30 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, and participates in several programs focused on training scientists from underrepresented minorities. He directs the Autoimmunity post-graduate course at Harvard Medical School, and the Seminars in Immunology post-graduate course at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The Barancik Prize seeks to recognize and encourage exceptional innovation and originality in scientific research relevant to multiple sclerosis, with emphasis on impact and potential of the research to lead to pathways for the treatment and cure for MS, and scientific accomplishments that merit recognition as a future leader in MS research. The international prize is made possible by the generosity of the Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation, and is administered through the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. 

Read about the Barancik Prize and previous recipients


Founded in 1995, Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS) is a community of leaders from the United States and Canada who are dedicated to the treatment and research in MS and other demyelinating diseases. ACTRIMS focuses on knowledge dissemination, education and collaboration among disciplines. ACTRIMS also provides a Forum for experienced and newer clinicians and researchers to exchange information, debate current issues and discuss advances related to basic research and clinical issues.

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