Prof. Rhonda Voskuhl

Organization for the Study of Sex Differences
Jack H. Skirball Chair
UCLA Dept. of Neurology
UCLA Multiple Sclerosis Program
University of California Los Angeles

Rhonda Voskuhl M.D. is a Professor of Neurology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), the Jack H. Skirball Chair, and the Director of the UCLA Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Program. Dr. Voskuhl’s lab was the first to use a cell-specific and region-specific transcriptomics approach to investigate the molecular basis for disability-specific disease progression in MS models. Dr. Voskuhl is also an internationally recognized expert in sex differences research, demonstrating roles for sex hormones and sex chromosomes in the immune system and the central nervous system. The Voskuhl lab was the first to show that estrogen receptor (ER) alpha and ER beta ligands were protective in MS models, acting via different mechanisms. ER alpha ligation targeted astrocytes, while ER beta ligation induced remyelination by direct effects on oligodendrocytes and indirectly by downregulation of innate immunity in microglia/macrophages. Her sex chromosome research discovered X-dosage and parental imprinting effects on autoimmunity. Dr. Voskuhl translated findings in her lab to four clinical trials of novel treatments in MS. Early in her career, Dr. Voskuhl received the Harry Weaver Neuroscience Scholar Award from the National MS Society. More recently, she received the Berlin Institute of Health Excellence Award for Sex and Gender Aspects in Health Research in 2018, the Kenneth P. Johnson Memorial Award by Americas Committee for Research and Treatment of MS (ACTRIMS) in 2019, and UCLA’s Innovation Award in 2019. She is the President of the Organization for the Study of Sex Differences (OSSD). Voskuhl received her MD from Vanderbilt University, completed neurology residency at University of Texas Southwestern and a postdoctoral fellowship at the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Voskuhl’s career mission is to use a region-specific, cell-specific, and sex-specific approach to identify novel treatment targets tailored for females and males in MS models and to translate these findings back to the bedside as clinical trials using disability-specific biomarkers of neurodegeneration in women and men with MS.