Scientific Planning Committee

The Alliance is in the process of establishing a Scientific Planning Committee to consist of leading clinicians, researchers and other experts in the diagnosis, assessment and treatment of autoimmune encephalitis.


Co-Chairs of Scientific Planning Committee


Dr. Helen Egger

Chair, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Director, Child Study Center at NYU Langone
New York University Langone Medical Center

Helen EggerDr. Helen Egger, a child psychiatrist and epidemiologist, is the Chair of the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Director of the Child Study Center at New York University Langone Medical Center.  A graduate of Yale College and Yale School of Medicine, Dr. Egger completed her clinical and research training at Duke University. In her role as Chair, Dr. Egger leads the clinical, educational, and research efforts in pediatric and adolescent mental health within the Department of Child and Psychiatry.

Among her many contributions to the field of childhood mental health, Dr. Egger is recognized for creating the Preschool Age Psychiatric Assessment, the first comprehensive, parent-report diagnostic interviewing tool for assessing the mental health of preschool-age children—internationally recognized as the gold standard for psychiatric assessment of this age group. In her role as a research scientist, Dr. Egger has focused on the developmental epidemiology and neuroscience of anxiety and mood disorders in children ages two to five. Her research uses brain imaging to examine dysfunctions of the neural circuitry in children with early onset anxiety disorders.

After co-founding and co-leading the Duke Initiative on Information and Child Mental Health, Dr. Egger’s research has expanded into the realm of digital health, data science, and global mental health. She has created innovative tools to gather and analyze information about a child’s behaviors, emotions, and development using computer vision and machine learning. One result of this initiative is an Apple ResearchKit app called Autism and Beyond, which tests the reliability of smartphone questionnaires and video analysis of facial expressions as possible screening tools for autism and other disorders of early childhood in children’s homes and communities.

Currently, she is leading the development of a new app, Picky Eating & Beyond. In collaboration with the Duke Global Health Institute, these apps are being released globally. She also is spearheading the development of a multi-disciplinary NYU Autism & Developmental Neuroscience Center (ADNC) with colleagues  from around the Medical Center. 

Dr. Egger serves in leadership roles within NYU Langone and in national organizations including the American Academy of Child Psychiatry and the American Psychiatric Association. She is a Board member for Zero to Three, a non-profit organization focused on infants, toddlers, and their families. 

Dr. Souhel Najjar

Associate Professor
New York University School of Medicine

S_Najjar_bio_PhotoDr. Souhel Najjar is the Chair of Neurology at Lenox Hill Hospital and Staten Island University Hospital and is Chair and Professor of Neurology at the Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine. Dr. Najjar graduated from the Damascus Medical School in Damascus, Syria in 1983. He completed two residency training programs, one in neurology and the other in pathology, at Albany Medical College between 1985 through 1992. Dr. Najjar subsequently completed fellowship at New York University Langone Medical Center in neuropathology as well as epilepsy and neurophysiology. His clinical practice focuses on patients with complex neurological disorders.

Dr. Najjar’s research interests include the interface of neurology and psychiatry, with a particular focus on the role of neuroinflammation in mediating neuropsychiatric illnesses. Dr. Najjar has been recognized as a leading physician in the diagnosis and treatment of the spectrum of autoimmune encephalitides.