Suhayl Dhib-Jalbut Appointed Chair of Neurology

Dear Colleagues:

I am pleased to announce that Suhayl Dhib-Jalbut, MD, has been appointed Chair of the Department of Neurology at New Jersey Medical School, effective August 1, 2015. In addition to this role, Dr. Dhib-Jalbut will continue to serve as Chair of the Department of Neurology at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, where he also serves as professor of Neurology and director of the RWJ Center for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and President of the Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in MS (ACTRIMS).

Dr. Dhib-Jalbut graduated Alpha-Omega-Alpha from the American University of Beirut in Lebanon and completed his neurology training at the University of Cincinnati. He joined the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland where he specialized in MS and neuroimmunology. Dr. Dhib-Jalbut was an NIH funded physician-scientist at the University of Maryland School of Medicine before his recruitment to chair the Department of Neurology at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in 2003. Under his leadership, the Department of Neurology at RWJMS grew from nine to 23 full time faculty members with a robust translational research program focused on MS and Parkinson’s disease.

During his tenure at the University of Maryland, Dr. Dhib-Jalbut participated in national clinical trials that led to the FDA approval of the first drugs ever for the treatment of MS. He was also among the earliest investigators to discover the immunological pathways that underlie the mechanisms of action of these drugs in MS. In recognition of his studies on the mechanistic aspects of MS therapies, the NIH awarded Dr. Dhib-Jalbut a 5-year mid-career investigator award in 1999.

Dr. Dhib-Jalbut made seminal contributions to the field of neuroimmunology and neurovirology. Early in his career, Dr. Dhib-Jalbut discovered that a defect in the activation of the transcription factor NF-kB in neurons is associated with the inability of these cells to produce the anti-viral protein Interferon type-I and therefore rendering them unable to clear virus. This discovery provided a novel mechanism for the ability of certain viruses such as measles to escape immune surveillance and persist in neurons. His discovery led to a successful international therapeutic trial of Interferon in SSPE.

Dr. Dhib-Jalbut and his collaborators also described for the first time a neurologic disorder caused by the retrovirus HTLV-II, akin to HTLV-I, the cause of Tropical Spastic Paraparesis. They also identified microglia as the target cell of HTLV-I in humans, findings that were published in PNAS. Subsequently, he identified tumor necrosis factor (TNF-alpha) secreted from infected microglia as a mediator of neuronal cell injury. This finding led to clinical studies with TNF inhibitors in HTLV-I infected individuals.

Dr. Dhib-Jalbut’s research, which has been funded by the NIH, the National MS Society, and industry, is currently focused on identifying biomarkers and predictors of clinical response to MS therapies as well as studies designed to deliver therapeutics to the brain using engineered stem cells as vehicles.

Dr. Dhib-Jalbut has published over 130 manuscripts in the scientific literature. He served as associate editor for the Journal of Neuroimmunology. He currently serves as associate editor for the Multiple Sclerosis journal and is a member of the editorial boards of JICR, Cytokine, and MS International. He served on several national and international scientific committees including as Chair of the scientific committee for the World Congress on MS in 2008. He also presided over the largest International MS meeting held in Boston last year (MS Boston 2014). Dr. Dhib-Jalbut has been on the Best Doctors in America list since 2009 and has received several awards and recognitions. More recently, he was awarded the Norman H. Edelman Clinical Science Mentoring Award at Rutgers, the Medical Excellence Award by the National MS Society, the Edward J. Ill Award for Excellence in clinical research and the NJ Foundation Excellence in Research Award.

I would like to thank Dr. Stephen Kamin and Dr. Barry Levin for serving as interim chairs of Neurology at New Jersey Medical School. Additionally, I would like to thank Dr. Marc Klapholz, chair of Medicine at NJMS, and the members of the search committee for the chair of Neurology for their diligent efforts to identify a slate of candidates for this position.

I hope that you will join RBHS Chancellor Brian Strom, Interim Dean Vicente H. Gracias (RWJMS), and me in congratulating Dr. Dhib-Jalbut and lending him your full support in his new position.

Robert L. Johnson, MD, FAAP
The Sharon and Joseph L. Muscarelle Endowed Dean Rutgers New Jersey Medical School