Erin Longbrake, MD, PhD, is a neurologist who specializes in neuro-immune diseases, including multiple sclerosis, neuromyelitis optica, and autoimmune encephalitis.
Dr. Longbrake earned combined MD/PhD degrees at Ohio State University, followed by a neurology residency at Washington University. In 2016, she joined the Yale faculty.
Dr. Longbrake’s interest in neuro-immunology stems from the rapid rate at which the field is changing. “When I was first starting to train, we were told that the immune system didn’t impact the brain, and now we know that couldn’t be further from the truth,” she says. She enjoys being a part of a field that is constantly developing new treatments and discovering new science.
As a neuro-immunologist, Dr. Longbrake develops long-term relationships with her patients. “We take care of people throughout the course of their disease, which means I have patients who first started coming to me in their late teens or early 20s and I continue to see them throughout their whole life,” she says. As a result, Dr. Longbrake gets to know her patients’ families and takes them into account when developing a treatment plan.
Dr. Longbrake’s approach to treating multiple sclerosis is to use the most aggressive treatments as soon as the diagnosis is confirmed. “We want to prevent future brain damage and keep the brain as intact as possible,” she says.
Dr. Longbrake also educates her patients about the nature of the disease. “At the beginning of the diagnosis, it’s particularly important to tell patients that it’s not the doomsday idea that this is going to put you in a wheelchair by the time you’re 30. We have good treatments,” she says.
In addition to treating patients, Dr. Longbrake conducts research on the biological mechanisms behind multiple sclerosis. She is an assistant professor of neurology at Yale School of Medicine.