Ayer Neuroscience Institute Adds Multiple Sclerosis Services, Specialists

CT Scan
Print icon

Hartford HealthCare’s Ayer Neuroscience Institute is expanding its services and is proud to announce the formation of a Comprehensive Multiple Sclerosis Center, which will be led by Dr. Brian Wong and Dr. Derek Smith.

The program will focus on the diagnosis and treatment of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) and other related disorders such as neuromyelitis optica (NMO), neurosarcoidosis, lupus and others.

“The formation of this new program, combined with the skills and expertise of Drs. Smith, Wong and the entire care team, ensures that patients will receive state-of-the-art treatment and care, which will result in improved outcomes,” says Mark Alberts, MD, physician-in-chief of the Institute.

Dr. Wong, a neuroimmunologist specializing in traditional and disease-modifying therapies for MS, will start in early September; Dr. Smith, who has been established in Norwich with Multiple Sclerosis Care of Connecticut, will join the Neuroscience Institute in October.

Both are familiar with the latest medications to treat these disorders, including new classes of disease-modifying treatments that can prevent debilitation relapses of MS and greatly improve the quality of life for affected patients.

“We are excited to be able to expand the breadth of services offered by the Ayer Neuroscience Institute to help people struggling with the debilitating disease of multiple sclerosis,” Dr. Alberts says. “These two physicians bring a strong background in neuroimmunology that translates into progressive and patient-centric care.”

Dr. Wong’s arrival enables Ayer to create a comprehensive Neuroimmunology Program. He comes to Hartford HealthCare from Brown University and Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, where he completed fellowship training. At Brown, he worked with a multidisciplinary team of specialists in physical therapy, neuropsychology, neuroradiology and ophthalmology. He also earned a medical degree from Georgetown University School of Medicine and a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Rochester.

“We welcome the expertise and skills Dr. Wong brings to the Institute. His knowledge of the latest medications to help patients affected by relapses of this debilitating disease is advanced and brings an entirely new resource to patients in this area,” Dr. Alberts says.

Neuroimmunology refers to the treatment for a group of diseases that typically affect young adults during their most productive time, from 20 to 40 years of age. The diseases include MS, clinically isolated syndrome, radiologically isolated syndrome, NMO spectrum disorder and related autoimmune diseases such as encephalitis, neuropathy, myelopathy, neurosarcoidosis, epilepsy and others.

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body.

“New diseases related to neuroimmunology are being identified each year. Having the expertise to properly diagnose and treat these patients and diseases reflects Hartford HealthCare’s commitment to providing the services the people of this region need, close to home,” Dr. Alberts says.

Dr. Wong is also an active researcher, serving as evaluating physician with the Brown/Rhode Island Hospital arm of both the TOPAZ and ORATORIO studies. He also worked to establish a Multiple Sclerosis Patient Database for Brown/Rhode Island Hospital. He is lead author on a paper titled “Moving towards a cure for MS: Increased Immunosuppression and Striving for No Evidence of Disease Activity (NEDA),” published in the Rhode Island Medical Journal as well as various professional presentations. He is a member of the American Academy of Neurology.

Dr. Wong will provide ambulatory as well as in-patient services at Hartford HealthCare facilities. He will be part of a multidisciplinary team that includes rehabilitation specialists, urologists, ophthalmologists, psychologists and others to improve the care and outcomes of patients with MS and other autoimmune diseases.

Dr. Smith will be the medical director of neuroimmunology services for the Neuroscience Institute in eastern Connecticut, which includes Backus and Windham hospitals. As such, he will advise and direct the development of related services such as infusion protocols, plasma-exchange treatments and other cutting-edge medications and therapies.

A nationally-recognized MS researcher and clinician, he helped to establish the MS centers at both Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, where he has provided tertiary care for difficult MS cases for more than a decade.

A graduate of Rice University, Dr. Smith earned his medical degree at the University of Texas, Southwestern, and completed a fellowship at Brigham and Women’s. He is a member of the American Academy of Neurology, the Clinical Advisory Committee of the National MS Society Chapter, and the Connecticut Neurological Society.

He has also served as the principal investigator of several multi-center clinical trials involving treatment-resistant patients. Co-chair of the advocacy committee for the Consortium of MS Centers, he has published internationally-recognized research seeking to correlate immune measures with MRI measures in MS.

“Dr. Smith’s experience is a tremendous boon to the Institute as we develop a program for multiple sclerosis,” Dr. Alberts says. “He is well respected in the field and sought-after for his opinion on the most challenging cases. That is exactly the sort of expertise we want to offer our patients.”

For more information about the new Multiple Sclerosis Center with the Ayer Neuroscience Institute, call 860.628.3910, or click here.

 


What's New

COVID-19

Life Upside Down? Here Are 7 Things You Can Control Now

Life certainly feels off lately, but you can still be in control. Sure, you’re physically separated from loved ones or your job, unable to visit favorite shops and limited to takeout for dining, but when the COVID-19 pandemic has upended your life, it’s even more important to focus on what...

Ayer Institute Adds Neurosurgeon

Dr. Mohamad Khaled, a Neurosurgeon, Joins Ayer Institute

Hartford HealthCare’s Ayer Neuroscience Institute announced the appointment of Dr. Mohamad Khaled as a neurosurgeon seeing patients both at Hartford Hospital and in offices in Enfield. “Dr. Khaled’s broad base of expertise enhances the services we already provide to patients suffering from various diseases and tumors of the brain and...

Scott Kress

Hartford HealthCare’s First Neuroscience Symposium Set for Oct. 27

Hartford HealthCare’s Ayer Neuroscience Institute will host its first symposium to help providers care for patients with common neurological conditions and make appropriate subspecialty referrals. Called “Innovations and Advances in Neuroscience Conditions,” the event is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 27, from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Connecticut Convention...

Stroke

Hartford Hospital Offers New Treatment for Brain Bleeding

Hartford Hospital is the only hospital in the state to be approved for the new medication Andexxa to treat brain hemorrhages (bleeding) related to the use of certain blood thinners. The use of the new medication has the potential to limit brain damage due to bleeding and in some cases save...

Infected Tick

Why This Tick Season Worries Health Officials

The United States is ill-prepared for a looming public health threat, says the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, as it released a report this week that found illnesses caused by mosquito, tick and flea bites tripled nationwide from 2004 to 2016. More than 640,000 cases were reported in that...

Rob Gronkowski.

NFL Injury Report: Rob Gronkowski’s Concussion

Our weekly NFL report evaluates injuries to players of local (Patriots, Giants and Jets) or national interest with commentary by a sports medicine specialist from the Hartford HealthCare Bone & Joint Institute at Hartford Hospital. Player: Rob Gronkowski, Patriots tight end. Injury: Concussion. How it happened: Gronkowski was hit by Jacksonville...