Salk Multiple Sclerosis
Research Collaborative

Salk Institute for Biological Studies - Salk Multiple Sclerosis
Research Collaborative

Salk Multiple Sclerosis Research Collaborative

The Salk Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Research Collaborative was launched in 2022 with a generous $1.5 million grant from the Sol Goldman Charitable Trust at the direction of cardiologist and Salk Trustee Benjamin Lewis.

Under the leadership of Professor Ronald Evans, four Salk faculty make up a multi-disciplinary team that is partnering with the Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins University to explore connections between the gut, brain, and immune system to transform new discoveries and technologies in MS into new therapeutics for patients.

Team leader: In addition to overseeing the team, Professor Ronald Evans investigates the role of the nuclear hormone receptor (NR) family and more generally epigenetic regulation in MS disease and progression. A particular focus is on the role nuclear receptor ligands, such as bile acids and vitamin D, play in blocking disease progression.

Co-Team leader: Professor Ye Zheng coordinates the experimental approaches for the team and runs the mouse model testing core. The Zheng lab is exploring MS treatment strategy by boosting the immune suppressive function of regulatory T cells and expanding the ability of these immune cells to target the central nervous system using mRNA vaccine technology.

Associate Professor Axel Nimmerjahn develops high-resolution imaging technologies to study the inflammatory response in MS and the long-term effects of treatments at cellular and molecular levels. New therapeutics include those developed by other labs in the collaborative. The Nimmerjahn lab also plans to explore tissue-resident immune cell-targeted interventions for fine-tuning beneficial and detrimental aspects of the inflammatory response—for example through brain cells such as astrocytes or microglia.

Professor Susan Kaech is testing whether blocking the hypoxia-inflammation cycle in MS will lead to effective new treatments. The hypoxia-inflammation cycle is a condition in which low oxygen levels (hypoxia) increase inflammation, and inflammation in turn triggers hypoxia. The cycle is thought to play a role in MS progression.