Howard L. Weiner
Howard L Weiner
|Born||December 25, 1944|
Denver, Colorado, U.S.
|Alma mater||University of Colorado Medical School|
|Known for||multiple sclerosis research|
|Children||Ron Weiner, Dan Weiner|
|Awards||John Dystel Prize for Multiple Sclerosis Research (2007)|
|Institutions||Brigham and Women's Hospital|
Howard L. Weiner (born December 25, 1944) is an American neurologist, neuroscientist and immunologist who is also a writer and filmmaker. He performs clinical and basic research focused on Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and other neurologic diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease and Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS). His work also focuses on autoimmune diseases such as diabetes. Weiner is the Robert L. Kroc Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School, Director of the Partners MS Center at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and Co-Director of the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases at the BWH in Boston, Massachusetts.
Weiner was born in 1944 in Denver, Colorado. His mother, Charlotte (Wasserstrom) was born in Vienna, Austria in 1922 and his father, Paul, was born in Vienna, Austria in 1917, both to Ashkenazi Jewish families. His mother's family worked as furriers and his father's family owned a large clothing store in the fashionable Am Graben district in the center of Vienna.
In 1968 he married his wife, Mira (Avinery), settled in the Boston area and raised two sons. Dan Weiner, is the Co-founder & Managing Partner of RevelOne, a marketing talent and strategy firm for technology companies. His younger son is Ron Weiner, a television writer with credits such as Silicon Valley (TV series) and 30 Rock.
Weiner majored in philosophy as an undergraduate at Dartmouth College (1962-1965), leaving after three years to attend medical school.
Weiner received his medical degree from the University of Colorado Medical School in 1969, and performed his medical internship at Sheba Medical Center in Tel HaShomer, Israel, his medical residency at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston (1970-1971) and his neurology residency at the Harvard Longwood Program in Neurology (1971-1974).
In 1972, during his neurology residency, Weiner published Neurology for the House Officer  with Lawrence P. Levitt, a fellow neurology resident. Neurology for the House Officer became a widely used manual that offered a practical approach to treating neurologic diseases. It was translated into French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese, Japanese. It is currently in its 8th edition, now authored by Alex Rae Grant, MD and entitled Weiner and Levitt’s Neurology for the House Officer. Weiner also published Pediatric Neurology for the House Officer  with Levitt and Mike Bresnan and Case Histories in Neurology for the House Officer with Levitt and Stephen Hauser. An entire House Officer Series was created based on Neurology for the House Officer. Following his residency, Weiner received a special fellowship from the Colorado MS Society to study immunology in the laboratory of Henry Claman at the University of Colorado School of Medicine where he studied the stimulation of B cells by anti-immunoglobulin. He then returned to Harvard Medical School where to took a research position in the laboratory of Bernard N. Fields where he studied viral host interactions using the reovirus model system. He has also investigated the role of the immune system in Lou Gehrig’s disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, ALS).
Career at Harvard Medical School
In 1985, Weiner was awarded an endowed chair from the Kroc Foundation of Santa Inez California for his study of MS with a gift of $1M to the Harvard Medical School. The chair was named for Robert L. Kroc, the brother of Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald’s. Three Kroc chairs were established in the United States to support research in the autoimmune diseases of MS, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis as members of the Kroc family suffered from these diseases. In 1985, together with Dennis J. Selkoe, Weiner established the Center for Neurologic Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital that he currently co-directs with Selkoe. The Center for Neurologic Diseases carries out basic and translational research in MS, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease and consists of 250 scientists and research personnel. In 2003, in honor of Weiner’s 60th birthday and in recognition of his research in MS and other neurologic diseases, a gift of $3.3M was made to Harvard Medical School by Biogen, a Boston-based biotechnology company, to establish the Howard L. Weiner chair in neuroscience at Harvard. Because a chair cannot carry the name of an active faculty member, the chair was named for Samuel L. Wasserstrom, Weiner’s maternal grandfather who perished in The Holocaust. Vijay K. Kuchroo was named the first incumbent of the Wasserstrom chair. The chair will carry Weiner’s name upon his retirement. During the course of his career, Weiner has trained over 40 clinicians and scientists.
The major focus of Weiner’s career has been the study of MS, which he began in 1972 as a resident in neurology at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston. He has published over 200 articles on all aspects of MS including basic studies, animal models and clinical trials. In 1983, he alongside Stephen L. Hauser, now Director, UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences and Professor of Neurology at University of California, San Francisco, published a seminal article on the treatment of MS in The New England Journal of Medicine. This demonstrated in a controlled trial a profound effect of the immunosuppressant and chemotherapy drug cyclophosphamide in stopping active, progressive MS. The article introduced the timed 25-foot walk (ambulation index) that subsequently has become a classic clinical measure in MS. In 2000, Weiner founded the Partners Multiple Sclerosis Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The Partners MS Center encompasses both adult and pediatric patients the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Massachusetts General Hospital, respectively. Both are member hospitals of the Partners HealthCare system in Boston. The Partners MS Center has served as a model for the comprehensive care of MS patients and includes clinical care and research, an infusion center and dedicated MRI magnet. The Partner’s MS Center has 4000 patient visits per year. Weiner established the CLIMB Study (Comprehensive Longitudinal Investigation of Multiple Sclerosis at Brigham and Women’s Hospital). The CLIMB natural history study of MS, which in an analogous fashion to the Framingham Heart Study; follows over 2000 patients with annual exams, blood studies, and MRI imaging to understand the course of MS over time. Weiner has pioneered the basic investigation and application of oral tolerance for the treatment of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.
In 1994, Weiner founded Autoimmune, Inc a biotechnology company which developed the application of oral tolerance for the treatment of autoimmune diseases including MS, rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes. Susan Quinn, a writer known for her biography of Marie Curie, chronicled Weiner’s journey with Autoimmune, Inc in a book entitled, Human Trials: Scientists, Investors, and Patients in the Quest for a Cure.  The clinical development of oral tolerance using anti-CD3 monoclonal antibody is currently being developed by Tiziana Life Sciences. Based on Weiner’s research, Tilos Therapeutics was formed in 2016 and is developing the treatment of cancer using a monoclonal antibody directed against LAP which a new checkpoint inhibitor that targets TGF-beta and regulatory T cells.
In 2003, Weiner was awarded the John Dystel Prize in multiple sclerosis research for his work on the immunology and immunotherapy of multiple sclerosis, by the American Academy of Neurology and the National MS Society. In 2007, Weiner published Curing MS: How Science is Solving the Mysteries of Multiple Sclerosis (Crown: New York). The book chronicles both the history of MS and Weiner’s personal journal in investigating and treating MS. In 2012, Weiner received a National Institutes of Health(NIH) Transformative Research Award from the NIH Directors office for the investigation of the innate immune system in Alzheimer’s Disease. Of 750 applications for the award, only 20 were given, and Weiner's video won first place.
Weiner wrote, produced and directed a documentary film entitled, What is Life: The Movie which was released in 2011. The film won four 2011 Los Angeles Movie Awards in the category of Documentary Feature: Award of Excellence, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, and Best Visual Effects. His second film, The Last Poker Game, is a narrative feature film which Weiner wrote, produced and directed, starring Martin Landau and Paul Sorvino. It had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 24, 2017. The film had a limited theatrical release on January 12, 2018 as Abe and Phil's Last Poker Game and is now available on iTunes and Amazon. The film has also received critical acclaim in Variety and the Village Voice.
Weiner published the novel The Children’s Ward (Putnam New York) in 1980.
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- "From the finding aid for Kroc Foundation Archives, 1967-1985 (University of California, Santa Barbara. Library. Department of Special Collections)".
- "Selkoe Laboratory".
- Hauser, SL; Dawson, DM; Lehrich, JR; Beal, MF; Kevy, SV; Propper, RD; Mills, JA; Weiner, HL (27 January 1983). "Intensive immunosuppression in progressive multiple sclerosis. A randomized, three-arm study of high-dose intravenous cyclophosphamide, plasma exchange, and ACTH". The New England Journal of Medicine. 308 (4): 173–80. doi:10.1056/nejm198301273080401. PMID 6294517.
- Ochi, H; Abraham, M; Ishikawa, H; Frenkel, D; Yang, K; Basso, A; Wu, H; Chen, ML; Gandhi, R; Miller, A; Maron, R; Weiner, HL (15 November 2008). "New immunosuppressive approaches: oral administration of CD3-specific antibody to treat autoimmunity". Journal of the Neurological Sciences. 274 (1–2): 9–12. doi:10.1016/j.jns.2008.07.027. PMC 3167084. PMID 18804221.
- Bosch, Xavier (4 October 2001). "Human Trials: Scientists, Investors, and Patients in the Quest for a Cure". Nature. 413 (6855): 457–458. doi:10.1038/35097137.
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- Grobar, Matt (April 28, 2017). "'The Last Poker Game' Star Martin Landau On Ageism In Hollywood And Roles He Is Happy To Turn Down — Tribeca Studio". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 16, 2017.
- "The Children's Ward on Goodreads".