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.
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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.
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.
- Special Issue of International Journal of Environmental Research in Public Health, Guest Editor
Residencies, Internships and Fellowships
Student and mentee totals, over Case Western Reserve University career:
- Master’s taught/mentored: 50/7
- PhD: 2
- Post-doc: 1