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Leadership

Dr. Fletcher

Mary Ann Fletcher, Ph.D.

Director, E.M. Papper Laboratory of Clinical Immunology, Institute for Neuro Immune Medicine, Nova Southeastern University

Schemel Professor for Neuro Immune Medicine, Institute for Neuro Immune Medicine, Nova Southeastern University

Professor Emeritus, University of Miami, School of Medicine

Mary Ann Fletcher, Ph.D., has over 40 years’ experience in laboratory immunology and as a senior scientist in interdisciplinary research. She has been the Director of the E.M. Papper Laboratory of Clinical Immunology for over 30 years and oversaw its recent relocation from the University of Miami to NSU. Along with being a laboratory director, Dr. Fletcher has been an Assistant Professor in Medicine and Immunology, and is currently the Institute’s first Schemel Professor for Neuro-Immune Medicine.

Dr. Fletcher has over 260 published articles in peer reviewed journals and book chapters. Her particular research focus is on the identification of clinically useful biomarkers in complex multi symptom illnesses such as HIV, ME/CFS and GWI.

Her research has been funded by the National Institute of Health, the Veterans Affair, and the Department of Defense. Dr. Fletcher also holds 2 U.S. patents for developing diagnostic tests related to infectious mononucleosis.

In addition to her current role as a CLIA certified Clinical Laboratory Director and Endowed Professor, Dr. Fletcher is on the manuscript review panel for multiple journals including the Annals of Internal Medicine, the Journal of Immunology, and Brain Behavior and Immunity. Dr. Fletcher is also a member of the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Advisory Committee which advises the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services.

  • NIH R01: Gender Differences in Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue
    We aim to understand the mediators of persistence and relapse in men with ME/CFS, as we have in women. We will approach this by: (i) integration across several of the body’s regulatory systems of data and knowledge collected from disparate sources, and (ii) mapping of the coordinated interactions between these physiologic systems and the potential for dysfunctional signaling networks. This project will extend this modeling of immune regulatory pathways and pathways that regulate latent viral expression in a way that will enable us to compare gender differences in illness mechanisms and explore gender-specific therapeutic targets.
  • VA MERIT: Women vs. Men with GWI: Differences in Computational Models and Therapeutic Targets
    We hypothesize that GWI affects regulatory function differently in women than in men, with implications on therapeutic management. The objective of this study is to improve our understanding of GWI pathogenesis in women by: (i) integrating data across several of the body’s regulatory systems, and (ii) mapping of dysfunctional signaling networks in GWI in each sex
  • DoD CDMRP/GWIRC: Understanding Gulf War Illness: An Integrative Modeling Approach
    Integrate two animal models of GWI with human clinical data to pinpoint the underlying mechanisms of disease and target treatment more effectively to re-establish normal well-coordinated signaling interactions. Specifically, our more detailed understanding of the dysfunction associated with key metabolic pathways involved in GWI would greatly expedite the identification of promising biomarkers for improved diagnosis over the short-term as well as selection and testing of more targeted therapeutic interventions over the longer term that will address the underlying mechanisms of disease.
  • NIH R15: Genomic approach to find novel biomarkers and mechanisms of CFS/ME
    The employment of advanced technologies (RNA-seq, Copy Number Variation and DNA methylation) and a well-rounded research approach to identifying regulators of transcription that result in characteristic symptomatology associated with CFS/ME, will enable us to provide clinicians with novel biomarkers within regulatory systems that can improve CFS/ME diagnosis and potentially management.
  • VA MERIT: A Translational Medicine Approach to Gulf War Illness: From Cells to Therapy
    The objectives of the proposed study are to determine if intervening at these therapeutic targets selected via computational modeling will act as predicted and normalize immune and neuroendocrine function in an in vitro system. The study will have 2 phases: an exploration/ screening phase and a validation phase. The screening phase will be conducted on 17 repurposed drugs. These will be assessed in vitro using whole blood cultures from 40 GWI patients and 40 matched controls. The most promising 5 drugs will be validated in PBMCs from a new cohort of 40 GWI patients and 40 matched controls.

  • DoD GWIRP/ IIREA: High Fidelity Design of Multi-modal Restorative Interventions in Gulf War Illness.
    Transition from idealized treatment regimens by integrating drug pharmacokinetic properties into a model-based framework of HPA-immune interaction in order to identify optimally beneficial, low-risk and cost-effective re-purposing strategies that are immediately deployable as short exposure courses in GWI phase-I clinical trials. Specific aims include: (AIM 1) implementing relative dynamics of intracellular and cell-cell signaling, (AIM 2) incorporating available drug action data, and (AIM 3) Increasing the speed and thoroughness of current search capabilities for optimal intervention courses. My role is to give clinical context to the models that are developed.

  • GWIRP/ IIRA: Epigenetic Mediation of Endocrine and Immune Response in an Animal Model of Gulf War Illness.
    The overall objective is to identify epigenetic mechanisms of altered Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) axis and immune signaling in a mouse model of environmental exposures linked to GWI. DNA methylation and histone modifications will be examined in peripheral blood and the brain using a high-throughput genome-wide approach. This proposal builds on a funded GWIRP Consortium project examining gene regulatory dynamics in a mouse model of exposure to a sarin surrogate under stress/immune challenge.

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FACULTY

Dr Nathanson

Assistant Professor, College of Osteopathic Medicine, Nova Southeastern University

Voluntary Assistant Professor, Dept. of Medicine, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, Fl

Lubov Nathanson, Ph.D., is a multidisciplinary scientist with over 20 yeras of work experience in basic and translational genomics and proteomics research. She has combined expertiese in bioinformatics, molecular biology, biochemistry and systems biology. Recently, Dr. Nathanson's academic work involves analysis of gene expression data from microarrays and RNA-seq.

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Paula Waziry

Assistant Professor, College of Osteopathic Medicine, Nova Southeastern University

Adjunct Professor, Farquhar College of Arts and Sciences Division of Math, Science and Technology, Nova Southeastern University

Research Faculty, Department of Veterans Affairs, Miami, Fl

Paula Waziry, Ph.D., is a pharmacologist fascinated with the immune system, cancer development, nucleocytoplasmic transport, development of innovative therapies and pathogens’ interactions with hosts. Her research philosophy encompasses an integrated approach that takes in consideration the wellbeing of the person, rather than concentrating on specific diseases or organ systems.

Based on this approach, Dr. Waziry is propelled to investigate Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) as it is a debilitating disorder without known causes and is believed to have a genetic predisposition along with environmental factors (epigenetics, pathogens). Furthermore, symptoms of ME/CFS resemble those of viral reactivation and some patients ameliorate using antiviral drugs, however, no specific virus has been identified as causative of ME/CFS.

Dr. Waziry’s knowledge of viral host evasion and takeover of nucleocytoplasmic machinery function has led to her research focus in identifying pathways at cellular levels that can be targeted for therapeutic intervention. Through her research, Dr. Waziry will reveal new therapeutics for ME/CFS and also contribute to the field of virology and antiviral drug design.

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