Explore This Research Program

Overview

We provide opportunities for children with and without PANDAS and OCD to participate in research. The goal of our research is to better understand neuropsychiatric disorders in children, especially P.A.N.D.A.S. and OCD, to inform and improve treatment. Please consider reaching out to us to see if you or your child may qualify.

What Is PANDAS?

PANDAS, or P.A.N.D.A.S., is short for Pediatric AutoImmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections. PANDAS is hypothesized to be caused by strep bacteria, which can hide from a child’s immune system by mimicking healthy cells in the skin, heart, joints, and brain tissue. Children with PANDAS experience a sudden onset or worsening of tics and/or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). While many children may experience strep throat, OCD, or tics, PANDAS is diagnosed when there is a close relationship found between the onset/severity of these symptoms and a streptococcal infection.

Vision

To improve understanding of the etiology and most effective treatments of pediatric neuropsychiatric immune conditions through our integrated clinic and research program.

Mission Statement

Our interdisciplinary team engages in cutting edge research to inform evidence-based care for children with neuropsychiatric conditions.

Current Research Projects

Healthy Children wanted for one-visit MRI research study

PI: Kyle A. Williams, MD, PhD

The Pediatric Neuropsychiatry and Immunology Clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital is looking for healthy children aged 7-15 years to participate in a single-visit MRI study. This study investigates the role of neuroinflammation in the development of PANDAS/PANS. Participants will come in for a single visit lasting approximately 2-3 hours at the Martinos Imaging. The participant will receive a 45 minute MRI and undergo some brief neuropsychological examinations. Subjects will be reimbursed $50 for their participation.

If you and your child are interested in participating, contact our study coordinator: 617-726-8508, pandasclinic@partners.org

Children with PANDAS wanted for clinical trial

PI: Kyle A. Williams, MD, PhD
Study Contact: Sarah O'Dor (617-643-6688, pandasclinic@partners.org)

Study Description: The Pediatric Neuropsychiatry and Immunology Clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital is looking for children aged 6-15 years to participate in a clinical trial. This study evaluates the efficacy of naproxen sodium to treat OCD symptoms in patients with suspected or diagnosed Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcal infections (PANDAS). Participants will come in for up to 4 visits lasting 1.5-3 hours at the Simches Research Building or One Bowdoin Sq. Participants will receive 8 weeks of either naproxen sodium or placebo. The participant will undergo two blood draws, urine samples, and fecal samples as well as questionnaires and physical and psychiatric exams. Compensation ($50) and parking reimbursement will be provided.

Children with OCD Wanted for a Research Imaging Study

PI: Kyle A. Williams, MD, PhD

The Pediatric Neuropsychiatry and Immunology Clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital is looking for children with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) aged 6-17 to participate in a single-visit MRI study. This study investigates the role of neuroinflammation in contracting PANDAS/PANS. Participants will come in for a single visit that should last 2-3 hours wherein the participant will receive a 45 minute MRI and undergo some brief neuropsychological examinations. Subjects will be reimbursed for their participation.

If you and your child are interested in participating, contact our study coordinator: 617-726-8508, pandasclinic@partners.org

Investigating microglial activation in movement and compulsive disorders using MR-PET

Are you a healthy adult between 18 and 40 years old? You may be eligible for a Massachusetts General Hospital research study investigating the structure and function of the brain of adults with and without movement and compulsive disorders using MR-PET scans. The study includes one screening visit and one scanning visits at the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging. Eligible participants will be compensated up to $200 for their time.

For more information, please contact Hooker Research Group staff at: 617-643-7811 OR imagingstudy@harvard.edu)

Is there a connection between movement and compulsive disorders and neuroinflammation in the brain?

Are you a healthy adult between 18 and 40 years old? The Massachusetts General Hospital is currently recruiting for a new research study that will use a MR-PET scanner to examine the brains of adults with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder or Tourette Syndrome. The study will include two visits at the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging. Participants will be compensated up to $200 for their time. Participants must be: - Between the ages of 18 and 40 years old - Diagnosed with either OCD or TS

For more information, please contact Hooker Research Group staff at: 617-643-7811 OR imagingstudy@harvard.edu)

Group Members

Meet Our Team

Investigators

MGH Collaborators

Research Technicians

    • Noreen Ward

Research Assistants

    • Olivia Downer
    • Gabby Johnson
    • Julia Zagaroli

Full list of publications

Publications

Selected Publications

Autoantibody Biomarkers for Basal Ganglia Encephalitis in Sydenham Chorea and Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated With Streptococcal Infections. . Chain JL, Alvarez K, Mascaro-Blanco A, Reim S, Bentley R, Hommer R, Grant P, Leckman JF, Kawikova I, Williams K, Stoner JA, Swedo SE, Cunningham MW. Front Psychiatry. 2020; 11:564. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2020.00564.

Antibodies From Children With PANDAS Bind Specifically to Striatal Cholinergic Interneurons and Alter Their Activity. . Xu J, Liu RJ, Fahey S, Frick L, Leckman J, Vaccarino F, Duman RS, Williams K, Swedo S, Pittenger. 2020 Jun 16. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2020.19070698

Immunoglobulin A dysgammaglobulinemia is associated with pediatric-onset Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. . Williams K, Shorser-Gentile L, Sarvode Mothi S, Berman N, Pasternack M, Geller D, Walter J.  J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2019 May(4);268-275. doi: 10.1089/cap.2018.0043

Defining paediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric syndrome.. Williams KA. Lancet Child Adolesc Health. 2019 03; 3(3):134-135. doi: 10.1016/S2352-4642(19)30021-5

Clinical Management of Pediatric Acute-Onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome: Part I-Psychiatric and Behavioral Interventions.. Thienemann M, Murphy T, Leckman J, Shaw R, Williams K, Kapphahn C, Frankovich J, Geller D, Bernstein G, Chang K, Elia J, Swedo S. J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2017 Sep; 27(7):566-573. doi: 10.1089/cap.2016.0145