Jeff received his B.A. in Chemistry and Psychology from Case Western Reserve University in 2012. He remained in Cleveland, OH to pursue his PhD in Biomedical Neuroscience through the Cleveland Clinic Foundation/ Kent State University joint program under the advisement of Dr. Conni Bergmann. Jeff’s dissertation work focused on the importance of peripheral germinal center (GC) reactions in the dynamics of antigen (Ag)-specific B lymphocytes during virus-induced central nervous system (CNS) inflammation. In particular, he demonstrated that Ag-driven, peripheral GC formation is critical for development of Ag-specific B cells, as well as accumulation and maintenance in the inflamed CNS following mouse hepatitis virus (MHV)-induced encephalomyelitis. His findings strongly support GC reactions as critical for imprinting virus-specific B cells, particularly antibody-secreting cells (ASC), for migration to the CNS. They further imply that accumulation of Ag-specific B cells is differentially regulated, with early GC reactions supporting preferential memory B cell (Bmem) egress and accumulation in the CNS, and late GC reactions preferentially mediating ASC migration to the CNS during viral persistence. Importantly, his studies did not provide any evidence for local, de novo synthesis of Ag-specific B cells in the CNS, or local conversion of Bmem to ASC. He also demonstrated that the survival factor APRIL, which maintains long-lived ASC in the bone marrow, is also important in maintaining virus-specific ASC in the CNS during MHV infection.

Following graduation, Jeff joined the Segal Lab in May of 2018. His current projects broadly focus on exploring the impact of various myeloid cell subsets in CNS autoimmune disease. Specifically, he is conducting studies to delineate the role of anti-inflammatory myeloid cells and conventional dendritic cells in the initiation and regulation of inflammation in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), a rodent model of multiple sclerosis (MS). Additionally, he spearheads an on-going clinical study devoted to elucidating the mechanism underlying the therapeutic benefit of B cell-depletion treatments (e.g. rituximab, ocrelizumab) for persons with MS.

Email: Atkinson.261@osu.edu