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

Head, Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Duke University Medical Center

Helen EggerDr. Helen Egger, a child psychiatrist and epidemiologist, is Chief of the Division of Child and Family Mental Health and Developmental Neuroscience in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University Medical Center. She is a tenured Associate Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Pediatrics. A graduate of Yale College and Yale School of Medicine, Dr. Egger completed her clinical and research training at Duke. In her role as Division Chief, Dr. Egger leads the clinical, educational, and research efforts in pediatric mental health within the Department of Psychiatry. Dr. Egger also leads the Early Childhood Mental Health Research Program within the Duke Center for Developmental Epidemiology.

Dr. Egger’s research focuses on the presentation, course, and biological and environmental causes of psychiatric disorders, particularly anxiety disorders, in preschool children. She is a leader in the development of measures for assessing psychiatric symptoms and disorders in young children. She conducts neuroimaging studies with young children to identify structural and functional brain differences in young children with anxiety disorders.

Dr. Egger also leads a multidisciplinary, university-wide program of research in collaboration with colleagues in Duke’s school of engineering to develop new computational tools and instrumentation for early diagnosis of psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders in infancy and early childhood. Dr. Egger serves in leadership roles within Duke Medicine 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.