Multiple Sclerosis Research Center

For more detailed information on the clinical advances and research performed at the Judith Jaffe Multiple Sclerosis Center, visit our main website at http://weill.cornell.edu/mscenter/.

The Judith Jaffe Multiple Sclerosis Center: A Clinical Care and Research Center

Timothy Vartanian, MD is the director of the Judith Jaffe Multiple Sclerosis Center which is a clinical care and research center sponsored by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. The Judith Jaffe Multiple Sclerosis Center offers diagnosis and treatment options to patients with MS, optic neuritis and other autoimmune, inflammatory demyelinating disorders of the central nervous system. Recognized by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Center provides the latest treatments for the disease, including approved and novel investigational therapies. The program is dedicated to providing comprehensive patient care in a comfortable patient- and family-friendly environment. The Center employs a coordinated multidisciplinary approach from relevant clinical departments.

The interdepartmental clinical support staff includes designated specialists from the following specialties:

  • Neurologists specializing in the care of MS patients: Dr. Frank Petito, Dr. Patrick Stubgen, Dr. Nancy Nealon and Dr. Susan Gauthier
  • Neuro-Ophthalmology: Dr. Marc Dinkin and Dr. Jacqueline Schuker Winterkorn
  • Urology: Dr. Alexis E. Te, Dr. Steven A. Kaplan, and Dr. David R. Staskin
  • Neuro-radiology: Dr. Linda Anne Heier and Dr. Robert David Zimmerman
  • Nurse Practitioner
  • Clinical Social Work
  • Rehabilitation Medicine
  • Physical and Occupational Therapy
  • Nutrition, Psychiatry and Psychology

What is multiple sclerosis?

Defined clinically, multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the central nervous system identifiably by progressive symptoms, and pathologically by scattered areas of inflammation and demyelination affecting the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. Generally, individuals note the first signs between the ages of 15 and 50. Affected patients encounter bouts of inflammatory demyelination producing the classic course of the disease of exacerbation - remittance. Diagnosis is aided by laboratory tests and the use of imaging procedures such as Magnetic Resonace Imaging.

For the first time in medical history, we're able to control the disease, limit the frequency and severity of attacks, and limit the neurologic disability that would otherwise accumulate over time. The MS Center is dedicated to providing comprehensive patient care, performing basic cellular and molecular research on the cause of MS, and instituting novel treatment protocols for multiple sclerosis based on our most current understanding of the disease pathogenesis.

With the generous gift from the Feil Family Foundation, the Multiple Sclerosis Center, as of April 15, 2007 will be located in the new Weill Greenburg Ambulatory Care Center at the Cornell Medical Center. The Weill Greenberg Center was designed by Polshek Partnership Architects and Ballinger, a 140-person firm known for architectural excellence and innovative design, and in December 2006, the Weill Greenberg Center was featured in New York Construction's Best of 2006 Awards issue, receiving an Award of Merit in the Health Care and Hospital category.

With views over the courtyard to the south adding to the relaxing feel of the comfortable, inviting reception area, the Judith Jaffe Multiple Sclerosis Center will consist of patient examination rooms; doctors' offices; an infusion room; and a support suite for nurse practitioners, a social worker, clinical trials coordinator and compliance coordinator.

Clinical Trials and Therapeutics in Multiple Sclerosis

The Judith Jaffe Multiple Sclerosis Clinical Care and Research Center has an active clinical research program with long history of participating in a number of currently FDA approved therapies for MS.

We are participating in the phase III study of fingolimod for the treatment of relapsing-remitting MS. MS is widely regarded as a chronic autoimmune disorder and is thought to be primarily mediated by T lymphocytes. Fingolimod is a novel, oral agent currently in clinical development through Novartis for the treatment of MS. Fingolimod decreases the ability of both B and T lymphocytes to exit from the lymph nodes. A phase II study in patients with relapsing MS, 281 patients was randomized to receive 1.25 mg fingolimod, 5 mg fingolimod or placebo for up to 6 months. The study demonstrated highly statistically significant effects of both doses relative to placebo on both MRI and clinical relapse-related endpoints.

The current study is a phase III 24-month double-blind, randomized, multicenter, placebo-controlled, study comparing the efficacy and safety of 0.5 mg and 1.25 mg fingolimod (FTY720) administered orally once daily versus placebo in patients with relapsing-remitting MS.

To be eligible:

  • You must have the diagnosis of relapsing remitting MS.
  • 18 through 55 years of age
  • A relapsing-remitting course of MS with at least 1 documented relapse during the previous year or 2 documented relapses during the previous 2 years
  • Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) score of 0-5.5 inclusive
  • Patients must decline initiation or continuation of treatment with available disease modifying drugs (interferon beta or glatiramir acetate) for multiple sclerosis.
  • Patients must be stop interferon beta or glatiramer acetate 3 months prior to enrollment

Additional Information

The Judith Jaffe Multiple Sclerosis Clinical care and research center continues to work closely with physicians from the adjoining Rockefeller University to promote basic and clinical research in this area. Close collaborations are also maintained with the leading neurology and immunology laboratories at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Institute and the Hospital for Special Surgery; all institutions together comprising one of the largest and most advanced biomedical complexes in the world. The NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital Network of several local hospitals and an affiliation with The North Shore University Hospital on Long Island further extends the breadth of potential patient contact. In addition to the complete inpatient and outpatient neurorehabilitation program at The New York Hospital, The Burke Rehabilitation Center in White Plains provides a pastoral setting for intensive physical, occupational, cognitive, and speech therapy, working closely with the MS Center.