Philip Lawrence De Jager, MD, PhD
Photo: Phillip L. De Jager



Elected 2013

Dr. Phillip L. De Jager’s  research focuses on exploring the genomic and epigenomic architecture of two neurodegenerative diseases: MS and age-related cognitive decline. These two conditions share certain features, such as inflammation, brain atrophy, and progressive loss of cognitive function, that foster cross-pollination and synergy among his research projects. Through the International MS Genetics Consortium (IMSGC), Dr. De Jager has led the meta-analyses of genome-wide association studies to discover MS susceptibility genes. Further, he leveraged these results to explore the functional consequences of risk-associated genetic variation and to develop a clinical algorithm that integrates the known genetic susceptibility factors with environmental risk factors to predict the likelihood of a diagnosis of MS, illustrating the way forward in bringing complex genetics to the bedside. In the area of aging-related cognitive decline, Dr. De Jager works closely with colleagues at Rush University to uncover the causal chain linking risk factors for cognitive decline to molecular, neuropathologic, and cognitive changes that ultimately lead to a syndromic diagnosis of dementia. To do this, his lab relates genetic variants, brain epigenomic features, brain transcriptome profiles, as well as immunologic and other measures from over 2,600 subjects to each individual’s trajectory of cognitive decline. Overall, Dr. De Jager has focused his efforts on building research programs that use modern analytic techniques and emerging genomic technologies to deconstruct the heterogeneity of MS and aging-related cognitive decline.