Marisela Dy-Hollins, MD
Marisela Dy-Hollins, MD, joined Pediatric Neurology at MGfC in January 2018 as director of the Pediatric Movement Disorders Clinic. Dy-Hollins cares for pediatric and adult patients with a variety of movement disorders, including tics, dystonia, and chorea. Before joining MGfC, she completed a fellowship in movement disorders with a focus on Rett Syndrome at Boston Children’s Hospital. Her current research focuses on rare movement disorders and health care disparities among minority ethnic and racial groups. She has a particular interest in ADCY5-related dyskinesia, a rare genetic movement disorder that causes sudden jerks, tensing or tremors and can affect the limbs and face.
Dy-Hollins believes that the nation’s health care system needs to do more to address the needs of diverse patient populations. “Each patient has a story and through research and through those stories, we can begin to find answers and fill in the gaps,” said Dy-Hollins. “I love collaborating with others, whether that’s in a clinical setting with other providers or in a research setting with other basic scientists.”
Dy-Hollins’s interest in health care disparities stems from her experience advocating for Spanish-speaking patients and helping them navigate the complexities of the health care system. Her patients have inspired Dy-Hollins to broaden her research to begin to identify and analyze ways to reduce disparities in access to health care among patients with movement disorders in the United States. She will be a part of the 2018 AAN TRANSCENDS program, which provides leadership development for physicians from minority backgrounds.
Albert Misko, MD, PhD
Albert Misko, MD, PhD, joined Pediatric Neurology after completing his residency at Mass General for Children (MGfC) in July 2017. Misko spends most of his time researching inborn errors of metabolism (disorders that affect how the body breaks down food for energy) and various small molecule disorders, such as sulfite oxidase deficiency and urea cycle disorders. Outside of the lab, Misko is establishing his clinical practice with a focus on treating children and adults who have neurological complications because of inborn errors of metabolism.
“Each individual inborn errors of metabolism is rare, but collectively, they affect one in every 1,500 people,” said Misko. “While unique efforts aimed at individual disorders requires many resources, there are underlying themes throughout the different disorders that we can use to form our research approach. This can help strengthen and sustain our efforts.”
Misko and his research team also hope to create new concept models of the existing disorders and develop new gene therapies based on their insights. In addition to his bench-side research, Misko is creating an online database for clinical data from patients with mucolipidosis type IV (MLIV). In collaboration with the Mucolipidosis Type IV Foundation and the Orphan Disease Center at the University of Pennsylvania, Misko and his team are studying MLIV in hopes of creating a specific disease scale to use in future clinical trials.
Melissa Walker, MD, PhD
Melissa (“Missy”) Walker, MD, PhD, joined Pediatric Neurology at MGfC in July 2016 as the director of the Mitochondrial Disorders Clinic. Mitochondrial disorders are individually rare, but as a group, they affect one in every 5,000 births. The disorders are a result of the mitochondrion (the cell’s primary source of energy) not working properly. Mitochondrial disorders can affect many organs and systems throughout the body.
“In rare and incurable diseases, research is fundamental,” said Walker. “It is only through active investigation that we can begin to provide our patients with the care they deserve and bring hope to children and families facing incredible challenges.”
Most of Walker’s time is dedicated to laboratory-based research with an aim to understand mitochondrial dysfunction in disease and to develop a novel diagnostic assay (blood test) for mitochondrial disorders. Right now, there are no proven therapies and no widely supported diagnostic tool for diagnosing mitochondrial disease. Walker is also a member of the National Institutes of Health Undiagnosed Disease Network.