Research

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, life-changing disease of the central nervous system that is most often diagnosed in the third or fourth decade of life, occurs more frequently in women than in men, and globally affects more than two million individuals (at least 400,000 of them in the US). There is broad consensus that MS etiology is multifactorial and that the MS-prone genotype results from multiple independent DNA variants relatively frequent in the population. The polygenic model of MS heritability provided the rationale and drive for assembling large DNA datasets to pursue genome-wide association studies (GWAS), which identified over 200 statistically independent autosomal polymorphisms associated with risk. In aggregate, these findings explain at least 50% of the overall contribution of genetics to disease susceptibility, of which over 10% are attributable to Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC)-associated polymorphisms. Beyond this effort to describe risk heritability, there are significant questions that remain to be answered to maximize the value of genetic research in MS, including the need to describe and interpret the relationships between genotype and phenotype, and identify markers of disease progression.


The availability of highly sensitive and high-capacity methods for analysis of gene variation and expression combined with the implementation of algorithms that predict behaviors in complex biological circuits provides an outstanding opportunity to facilitate progress in the integration of multiple data sources and functional interpretation of physiological and laboratory results. Our goal is to apply novel molecular, informatic, statistical, and epidemiological approaches to illuminate fully the genetics of autoimmune demyelination. Specifically, our research plan includes:



Research in the laboratory is funded by the National Institute of Health and the National multiple Sclerosis Society.

Invitation to Students and Postdoctoral Fellows

NIH-funded post-doctoral positions are available immediately for motivated candidates with background in genetic epidemiology, molecular biology, signaling, EAE/MS immunobiology, stem cell biology, computational biology, and clinical neurology.

Our strategy is to integrate molecular, informatic, statistical, and epidemiological approaches to illuminate fully the genetics of neuroinflammation. The laboratory and clinics provide a nurturing and interactive environment to acquire and develop skills in modern immunogenetics research. Each student or fellow leads a unique project with appropriate mentoring and advice from the senior members of the lab. Lab members participate in stimulating and challenging lab meetings, journal clubs, seminar programs, and specialized courses. We have access to state of the art core facilities, and the superb neuroscience, immunologic and genetic communities at UCSF, as well as a network of national and international collaborators and opportunities to attend and present at national and international meetings, provide an outstanding environment to successfully achieve ambitious research goals and unique opportunities to branch out and develop long-standing scientific relationships. Finally, the city of San Francisco and surroundings offer unequal beauty, culture and diversity. You are invited to contact us at jorge.oksenberg@ucsf.edu.