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Parsing Complex Disorders of the Gut-Immune-Brain Axis Into Clinically Meaningful Subsets: Immune Signatures as a Lens for Discovery

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  • Associate Professor, Columbia University
    Biography
      Mady Hornig, MA, MD is a physician-scientist at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health where she is an Associate Professor of Epidemiology. She received her undergraduate degree from Cornell University, where she was a College Scholar (Biology, Law & Society), an MA in Psychology from The New School for Social Research, and an MD from The Medical College of Pennsylvania (now Drexel). A physician-scientist, she is widely recognized for her animal model and clinical research on the role of microbial, immune and toxic factors in the development of brain conditions including autism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal infection (PANDAS), mood disorders, schizophrenia, myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) and cognitive disorders of aging. She is particularly interested in fetal programming of central nervous system (CNS) disorders that manifest across the life span, ranging from neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism to mood and cognitive disorders in adulthood and later life. She is internationally known for establishing animal models focused on how genes and age-related factors interact with microbes and other environmental agents to lead to inflammation and autoimmune phenomena that disrupt brain development and function. She uses immune profiling, metabolomic, proteomic, epigenetic and microbiome approaches to identify prenatal and birth biomarkers for a wide range of neuropsychiatric disorders, including autism and ADHD, in the large, prospective MoBa Study in Norway and other pregnancy/birth cohorts. She is applying similar approaches to uncover markers of disturbed immunity and metabolism that correlate with the clinical deficits of disabling diseases such as ME/CFS, with support from the Hutchins Family Foundation/Chronic Fatigue Initiative (CFI) and NIH. In 2004, Dr. Hornig presented to the Institute of Medicine Immunization Safety Review Committee and testified twice before congressional subcommittees regarding the role of infections and toxins in autism pathogenesis and has lectured globally on immune-mediated brain disorders such as autism, PANDAS and ME/CFS. She has over 130 peer-reviewed publications, has edited several books, and has received many academic awards. Her work has been featured by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, Discover Magazine, Nature Medicine, Science, Wired, the Huffington Post, O Magazine, CBS News, and This Week in Virology. She is a member of the President's Council of Cornell Women, and maintains a strong connection with organizations focused on disabilities, such as The Microbe Discovery Project, #MEAction, #MillionsMissing and The Global Autism Project; the environment, including Riverkeeper and the Collaborative on Health and the Environment; and music, including a close association with Jazz at Lincoln Center as a member of the Chairman's Circle.

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