MS Minute: Introducing The New Editors

Our new editors continue their professional collaboration to help advance care of patients with MS.

By Barbara S. Giesser, MD, FAAN, FANA; and Lawrence Samkoff, MD, FAAN

About the Editors

Dr. Barbara Giesser and Dr. Lawrence Samkoff have been friends, colleagues, and MS specialists for over 30 years and are delighted to continue their professional collaboration as co-editors of the MS Minute column.

Dr. Giesser trained at the Multiple Sclerosis Research & Training Center at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and served as faculty there and at the University of Arizona. She is Professor of Clinical Neurology at the David Geffen UCLA School of Medicine and Clinical Director of the UCLA MS Program. In addition to her clinical activities, she has conducted research on the effects of exercise in persons with MS, and created curricula and educational materials for health care professionals, trainees, and lay audiences in multiple educational venues. She is active in advocacy efforts with the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) and the American Neurological Association (ANA).

Dr. Samkoff also trained at the MS Center at Einstein, mentored by Dr. Giesser, and served on the faculty there and at New York Medical College. He is Associate Professor of Neurology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and Attending Neurologist at the Rochester Multiple Sclerosis Center. In addition to his clinical and teaching activities, he has been a principal investigator in numerous MS clinical trials, co-edited a textbook in MS and neuroinflammatory diseases, served on the residency in-service training examination (RITE) subcommittee of the AAN, and been involved in advocacy with the AAN and the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (CMSC).

Perspectives and Goals

When we began our careers in MS, MRI was just becoming available as a diagnostic modality, formal diagnostic criteria had not been refined, there were no Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved disease-modifying therapies (DMTs), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) did not even exist! Today, diagnostic guidelines coupled with sensitive and sophisticated imaging techniques permit MS diagnosis at very early stages, with the opportunity for prompt intervention with over a dozen FDA-approved DMTs. There are more and better strategies for symptom management, and more opportunities and assistance for persons with MS to flourish at home, at school, and in the workplace.

Although we’ve come a long way, many gaps remain. There is still no pathognomonic sign, symptom, or diagnostic test for MS, and recent literature suggests that misdiagnosis of MS may occur in almost 20% of patients. The search for more sensitive and reliable biomarkers of disease activity and progression continues. Although DMTs are very effective in reducing inflammation and new lesions, (primarily in relapsing-remitting MS), more effective therapies for progressive disease are still needed. Remyelinating and neuroprotective therapies remain elusive, but there are promising candidates that are under investigation and possibly available in the not-too-distant future. Management of persons with MS is complex and multifaceted. It requires familiarity with the nuances of prescribing DMTs; understanding interactions of MS and comorbid conditions and reproductive concerns; and the ability to discuss lifestyle management, alternative and complementary medicine, and psychosocial issues, all with up-to-date, accurate information.

We envision the column as a resource with brief reviews of cutting-edge MS therapeutics and research as well as practical guidelines to assist in day-to-day patient management. To be of the most value and service to our readers, we will need your input and invite you to contact us in care of the editor, with feedback and ideas for topics.

We are excited to be able to provide a conduit to the expected advances in the MS clinical and research spheres at the approach of a new decade.

Barbara S. Giesser, MD, FAAN, FANA

Professor of Clinical Neurology
David Geffen UCLA School of Medicine
Clinical Director, UCLA MS Program
Los Angeles, CA

Lawrence Samkoff, MD, FAAN

Associate Professor of Neurology
University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry
Attending Neurologist
Rochester Multiple Sclerosis Center
Rochester, NY


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About Practical Neurology

Launched in 2002, Practical Neurology is a publication uniquely dedicated to presenting current approaches to patient management, synthesis of emerging research and data, and analysis of industry news with a goal to facilitate practical application and improved clinical practice for all neurologists. Our straightforward articles give neurologists tools they can immediately put into practice.