Dr. Maarten Titulaer MD, PhD Erasmus MC University Medical Center Department of Neurology Rotterdam | the Netherlands
The overall aim of my research is to understand the pathophysiological mechanisms of Autoimmune Encephalitis, and optimize treatment based on a combination of clinical characteristics and immunological profiles. After my MD PhD in Leiden, I moved to Philadelphia, USA as a clinical research fellow (Prof. Dalmau) awarded a Dutch cancer society fellowship, and moved with the laboratory to Barcelona. Here, I have been on the forefront of the discoveries in the developing field of Autoimmune Neurology. I was involved in the discovery of two antibodies and the clinical description of five. In 2012 my research “Treatment and prognostic factors for long-term outcome in patients with anti-NMDAR encephalitis” was selected for plenary presentations at both the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) and the American Neurological Association (ANA).
Returning to the Netherlands in 2013, I obtained an Erasmus MC fellowship, and a VENI-grant (NWO), to study the role of antibodies, and discover new ones, in children patients with encephalitis. Over the last five years I have started my own laboratory, in collaboration with Professor Sillevis Smitt, and run a national referral clinic in Autoimmune Neurology, granted as European Reference Network site.
My research has expanded to large, prospective cohort studies in epilepsy (Epilepsy Foundations project grant) and dementia (NWO Memorabel fellowship), characterizing autoimmune epilepsy and autoimmune dementia, and searching for new antibodies. We have determined optimal screening techniques for antibodies, specifically in large cohorts avoiding false positive and negative results. We have critically assessed the additive value of a positive VGKC-test in clinical practice, and published data on five different types of autoimmune encephalitis, as well as identifying a very strong correlation of anti-LGI1 encephalitis with a specific HLA type. I have continued my international collaborations, leading to immune typing, epitope mapping, and the first passive transfer experiments in autoimmune encephalitis. I am part of the international panel for guidelines on Autoimmune Neurology.