Bielekova to Head Waddell Multiple Sclerosis Center
Bibiana Bielekova, MD, has been named director of the Waddell Center for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) at the University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center.
She also joins the UC College of Medicine neurology department as an associate professor and will serve on the faculty of the Neuroscience Institute.
MS is an auto-immune disease that occurs when the body’s own natural defense system starts attacking the myelin sheath (outer lining) of nerves and neurons. The cause is unknown, but one theory is that it may it be triggered by exposure to a viral infection or environmental influences.
The disease takes different courses in different people and can go into remission for many years, recur occasionally, or progress quickly into degeneration of all motor functions that control muscles, strength, vision and balance. The very progressive form of the disease can end in death.
Physicians use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves to pinpoint the exact locations of lesions, plaques or damaged nerves and to measure progression of the disease.
Dr. Bielekova earned her medical degree summa cum laude from Comenius University, Slovakia, in 1993. She completed her internship at the State University of New York, Brooklyn, in 1994 and her neurology residency at Boston University in 1997.
She funded her postdoctoral clinical/research training with a fellowship award from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, which she completed at the institute’s Neuroimmunology Branch (NIB) in 2000. She then served as staff clinician at the NIB until the fall of 2005.
Her research interests include the development of new MS treatments and understanding how they function, as well as MS disease “heterogeneity,” or the different mechanisms that underlie the development and progression of MS.
“It’s now becoming clear that MS patients respond differently to different therapies,” Dr. Bielekova says. “We’re trying to discover what causes brain tissue destruction to occur by comparing MRI images of the brain with immunological data obtained from the blood or cerebrospinal fluid of MS patients.”
Dr. Bielekova has written numerous peer-reviewed publications and book chapters and serves as a reviewer for several neurology and neuro-immunology journals. She has been an investigator for many National Institutes of Health (NIH) clinical trials and is the inventor or co-inventor on three National Institutes of Health patents related to MS therapies. She also reviews grants for several funding agencies.
The Neuroscience Institute is a collaborative effort of nine academic departments at UC College of Medicine, University Hospital and independent physician practice groups. The institute is dedicated to patient care, research, education and the development of new medical technologies.