Farren B. S. Briggs, Ph.D., Sc.M.

Assistant Professor
Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences
School of Medicine
Faculty
Cleveland Institute for Computational Biology

Dr. Briggs is an epidemiologist with an emphasis in genetic and environmental epidemiology. He has experience investigating multiple facets of the etiology, pathology, and manifestation of chronic diseases by designing and using diverse study designs, resources, and methodological approaches. Dr. Briggs’ research is primarily focused on phenotyping multiple sclerosis at the micro- to macro-level, including profiling biomarkers, multimorbidity, quality of life, and physical/mental impairments, in addition to characterizing the role of genetic, environmental, gene x environment, metabolomic, lifestyle/behavioral, and comorbidity variation in multiple sclerosis pathophysiology. Dr. Briggs is actively applying his methodological experience to other complex neurological and inflammatory diseases, including epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, neuromyelitis optica, inflammatory bowel disease, and atopic dermatitis.

View Dr. Briggs' Lab page to meet his team

Read updates about his Lab's work

 

Teaching Information

Teaching Interests

I am the course director for PQHS 490 which introduces the fundamentals of Epidemiology. The class is aimed at graduate students, medical students, and advanced undergraduates. It is very much a 0-60mph class, where at the end of the semester students should be comfortable navigating most scientific articles, and able to discuss the study’s validity, the likely role of bias, and the causal implications.

I also co-instruct PQHS 465, an upper-level course on study design considerations in population health research.

Courses Taught

EPBI 490: Epidemiology: Introduction to Theory/Methods
PQHS 465: Design and Measurement in Population Health Sciences

Research Information

Research Interests

Most of my academic training has focused on characterizing the influence of genetic and non-genetic (primarily modifiable exposures) factors on susceptibility and disease manifestation of multiple sclerosis (MS).

My current research spans understanding the etiology and pathology of MS from the micro- to the macro-level. For example, investigating whether a diagnostic signature for MS can be derived from readily available technologies (i.e. metabolomic assays), improving the phenotyping of the disease (which is critical for prognostication and the development of novel therapeutics), and describing patterns in healthcare utilization.

I also conduct research in other neurological and autoimmune diseases, such as Parkinson's Disease, stroke, neuromyelitis optica and transverse myelitis.

Contributions to science:

  • Genetics of risk for demyelinating diseases, applying non-parametric analytical strategies to hypothesis-driven candidate gene association studies and genome-wide association studies to marginal and epistatic genetic risk variants for MS. 
  • Genetics of MS of progression, examining the genetic component contributing to MS disability. This builds on prior work that involved the largest genome-wide association study of a measure of multiple sclerosis disability.
  • Documented influence of environmental and exogenous exposures on demyelinating diseases, examining the influence of environmental/exogenous exposures on MS susceptibility and progression in great depth, including the context of genetic heterogeneity. Discovered the first non-MHC gene-environment interaction modifying multiple sclerosis risk.
  • Characterizing demyelinating disease prevalence and overlapping comorbidities. Engaged in efforts to determine the prevalence of multiple sclerosis, as well as profiling comorbid conditions in affected persons. Similar analyses in Parkinson’s disease are ongoing.
  • Implemented the mobile stroke unit in Cleveland, OH. Served as the lead epidemiologist and biostatistician for evaluating the implementation of the first mobile stroke treatment unit in the U.S.

Professional Memberships

American Society of Human Genetics
Society for Epidemiologic Research
American Society for Human Genetics
Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers
Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science

External Appointments

Faculty
Cleveland Institute for Computational Biology
2016

Publications

  1. Sudhakar, S, Aebi, ME, Burant, CJ, Wilson, B, Wenk, J, Briggs, FBS, Pyatka, N, Blixen, C, Sajatovic, M. Health literacy and education level correlates of participation and outcome in a remotely delivered epilepsy self-management program. Epilepsy Behav 2020; : 107026. PubMed PMID:32249034 .
  2. Briggs, FBS, Wilson, BK, Pyatka, N, Colón-Zimmermann, K, Sajatovic, MM. Effects of a remotely delivered group-format epilepsy self-management program on adverse health outcomes in vulnerable people with epilepsy: A causal mediation analysis. Epilepsy Res. 2020; 162 : 106303. PubMed PMID:32151965 .
  3. Khalid, Z, Momotaz, H, Briggs, F, Cassidy, KA, Chaytor, NS, Fraser, RT, Janevic, MR, Jobst, B, Johnson, EK, Scal, P, Spruill, TM, Wilson, BK, Sajatovic, M. Depressive Symptoms in Older versus Younger People with Epilepsy: Findings from an Integrated Epilepsy Self-Management Clinical Research Dataset. J Multidiscip Healthc 2019; 12 : 981-988. PubMed PMID:31839708 PubMed Central PMC6904884.
  4. Briggs, F. Unraveling susceptibility to multiple sclerosis. Science 2019; 365 (6460): 1383-1384. PubMed PMID:31604260 .
  5. Briggs, FB, Hill, E. Estimating the prevalence of multiple sclerosis using 56.6 million electronic health records from the United States. Mult. Scler. 2019; : 1352458519864681. PubMed PMID:31339444 .
  6. Sheriff, MZ, Mansoor, E, Luther, J, Ananthakrishnan, AN, Abou Saleh, M, Ho, E, Briggs, FBS, Dave, M. Opportunistic Infections Are More Prevalent in Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis: A Large Population-Based Study. Inflamm. Bowel Dis. 2020; 26 (2): 291-300. PubMed PMID:31314891 .
  7. Crawford, DC, Cooke Bailey, JN, Briggs, FBS. Mind the gap: resources required to receive, process and interpret research-returned whole genome data. Hum. Genet. 2019; 138 (7): 691-701. PubMed PMID:31161416 PubMed Central PMC6767905.
  8. Gianfrancesco, MA, Briggs, FBS. Does early high body mass index influence onset of pediatric multiple sclerosis? Dev Med Child Neurol 2019; 61 (11): 1243. PubMed PMID:31044421 .
  9. Andersen, SL, Briggs, FBS, Winnike, JH, Natanzon, Y, Maichle, S, Knagge, KJ, Newby, LK, Gregory, SG. Metabolome-based signature of disease pathology in MS. Mult Scler Relat Disord 2019; 31 : 12-21. PubMed PMID:30877925 PubMed Central PMC6548586.
  10. Briggs, FBS, Thompson, NR, Conway, DS. Prognostic factors of disability in relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis. Mult Scler Relat Disord 2019; 30 : 9-16. PubMed PMID:30711764 .

Find all of Farren Briggs' publications through PubMed here.  

Editorial roles:

  • Special Issue of International Journal of Environmental Research in Public Health, Guest Editor

Education

PhD
Epidemiology
University of California, Berkeley
2010
ScM
Biostatistics
Brown University
2005
BA
Biology
College of the Holy Cross
2001

Residencies, Internships and Fellowships

National Multiple Sclerosis Post-Doctoral Fellow
University of California, Berkeley
2013

Additional Information

 

    Student and mentee totals, over Case Western Reserve University career:

    • Master’s taught/mentored:  50/7
    • PhD: 2 
    • Post-doc: 1