Rhonda Voskuhl, M.D.
Jack H. Skirball Chair, Multiple Sclerosis Research
Director, Multiple Sclerosis Program
Professor In-Residence, Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior
Office Address:635 Charles E. Young Drive South
Los Angeles, CA 90095
Dr. Voskuhl received her M.D. from Vanderbilt Medical School and completed a neurology residency at the University of Texas Southwestern. She did a five year fellowship in at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Dr. Voskuhl joined UCLA as Assistant Professor of Neurology in 1995, was promoted to Associate Professor in 2000 and Professor in 2004. She is Director of the UCLA MS Program. She received the Jack H. Skirball Endowed Chair in Multiple Sclerosis in 2006. She has received numerous grants from the NIH, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS), including the Harry Weaver Neuroscience Scholar Award. Dr. Voskuhl was recently selected for the prestigious Berlin Institute of Health Excellence Award for Sex and Gender Aspects in Health Research, an international award conferred in Berlin, Germany in 2018. Prof. Voskuhl has been selected to give the 2019 Kenneth P. Johnson Memorial Lecture by the Americas Committee for the Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS). She is also President-Elect for the international Organization for the Study of Sex Differences (OSSD).
Dr. Voskuhl has led in the study of sex differences in disease for over two decades. She served on the NIH Task Force on Women’s Health 1997 and the NMSS Task Force on Gender and Autoimmunity 1997 resulting in a publication in Science identifying the gaps in knowledge in sex differences research and an NIH/NMSS co-funding initiative for grants on sex differences research, for which she and others were funded. She has had continuous funding as PI for her research for over 20 years, including two current RO1 grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH): one on sex differences in MS and the other to discover novel treatments targeting disabilities in MS based on gene expression in the brain. Dr. Voskuhl's research has been highlighted in Science in 2010 and commented upon in editorials on sex differences research in Nature in 2014 and 2017. She has been a guest on National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" in 2014 and "All Things Considered" in 2016.
The Voskuhl laboratory is focused on understanding the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS) through the use of mouse models. Dr. Voskuhl employs a "Bedside to Bench to Bedside" approach where basic research starts with known clinical observations. These observations are investigated for underlying mechanism in the laboratory. Findings in the laboratory then reveal new treatments to be tested in clinical trials. A major clinical observation of interest is sex differences in MS and other neurodegnerative and autoimmune diseases. Dr. Voskuhl has led investigations into the effect of sex hormones and sex chromosomes on both inflammation and neurodegeneration. She has translated this basic science to the clinic by being the Principle Investigator on 4 treatment trials in MS, two of which were multicenter trials at several sites across the U.S. Another clinical observation being investigated through funding by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation investigates the difference in disabilties between MS patients, aiming to discover neuroprotective treatments tailored for each MS disability (walking, vision and cognition) by analysis of gene expression across brain in a disability-specific manner. This cell-specific and region-specific transcriptomics approach is also being aimed toward preventing cognitive decline of brain aging.