The MS Team

The John L. Trotter MS Center team: Front row seated, Left to right: Nanette Bladdick (administrative assistant), Susan Sommer (clinical coordinator), Laura Piccio MD PhD, Megan Orchard PA, Cathie Martinez (nurse), Anne Cross MD, Rob Naismith MD, Courtney Dula (clinical coordinator).
Back row Left to right: Dana Perantie (clinical coordinator), Amber Smith (clinical coordinator), Linda Heinrich RN (clinical coordinator), Bridgette Clay (clinical coordinator), Afsaneh Shirani MD (MS Fellow), Emily Evans MD (MS Fellow), Salim Chahin MD, Gregory Wu MD PhD, Francesca Cignarella PhD (MS research Fellow), Claudia Cantoni PhD (MS research fellow), Bryan Bollman (MS laboratory technician), and Shannon Sides (MS clinical coordinator).
Not shown: Bob Mikesell (laboratory research technician) and Angela S Archambault PhD (laboratory researcher).

The Physicians and Nurse Practitioner

Anne H. Cross, MD graduated cum laude from the University of Alabama School of Medicine and was selected for the Alpha Omega Alpha medical honorary. After residency training in neurology at George Washington University in Washington , D.C., Dr. Cross spent six years as a fellow in multiple sclerosis and neuroimmunology at the National Institute of Health and Albert Einstein School of Medicine in New York. Dr. Cross received a fellowship from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and was named a Harry Weaver Neuroscience Scholar of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. She joined the MS Center in 1991 as a specialist in MS and neuroimmunology. Currently, her research is funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.
Watch Dr. Cross participating in the PBS Program “Second Opinion”

Robert T. Naismith, MD received his medical degree from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH, where he was elected to AOA. He completed his Internal Medicine and Neurology training at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and was chosen Resident of the Year” in 2002. His research project as a Neurology resident on MS received the Levy Award from the Department of Neurology for best research by a resident. Dr. Naismith was selected as the first recipient of the Serono Fellow award from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS). Dr. Naismith is Director of the John L. Trotter MS Clinic, Director of the Multiple Sclerosis Clinical Trials Program, and Neurology Clerkship Director for Medical Students doing their clinical rotations in neurology.

Laura Piccio, MD, PhD was trained in medicine and neurology in Milan Italy. She does research full-time and is funded by the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Defense, National MS Society and other non-profit organizations. Her main focus of research is on endogenous immune regulatory mechanisms involving the “TREM” family of molecules and adipokines and cytokines, and caloric restriction in the EAE model of MS. She is currently conducting a diet study in MS patients that is funded by the National MS Society.

Gregory Wu, MD, PhD was born and raised in Iowa. He attended college at Washington University in St. Louis before obtaining his MD and PhD degrees at the University of Iowa. Dr. Wu joined the Washington University MS Center after completing neurology residency and fellowship training in neuroimmunology at the University of Pennsylvania. His fellowship was supported by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. He is actively pursuing research in multiple sclerosis, receiving a K08 career development award from the NIH for his work investigating the role of dendritic cells in an animal model for MS. His interests extend to other aspects of neuroimmunology, including the role of B lymphocytes in MS, and neuro-ophthalmology in relation to MS. His research is currently funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Salim Chahin MD MSCE is from Damascus Syria. He did his neurology residency at the University of Iowa, where he was neurology Chief Resident in 2101-2011. He trained in MS care and research at the University of Pennsylvania, and received the Masters of Science in Clinical Epidemiology degree from U of Penn in 2014. Dr. Chahin moved to Washington University in early 2017.

Mary Kay Fink, APN graduated from Deaconess School of Nursing, pursued her Bachelors of Science of Nursing at UMSL and obtained her Masters of Science of Nursing from Saint Louis University. Mary Kay Fink has been involved in providing care to MS patients and their families for nearly 20 years. She is an MS Certified Nurse, sitting for the very first MS certification nursing exam in 2001. Mary Kay has been active in the International Organization of MS Nurses (IOMSN) and the Consortium of MS Centers (CMSC). Her focus is on wellness and providing holistic comprehensive patient care to persons with MS.

MS Center Staff

Cathie Martinez, LPN – Staff Clinical Nurse. Cathie Martinez has been with the MS Center since 1995. Cathie handles patient care-related matters and helps triage incoming phone calls. Some of her responsibilities include: scheduling and pre-certifying MRI’s and other tests, answering questions from patients about symptoms, providing test results, filling out insurance and other forms and taking requests for medical records. Cathie will obtain information from patients calling in with problems, speak with their physician and call the patient back with recommendations. Ms. Martinez may be contacted at 314-747-0307.

Joanne Lauber RN – Staff Nurse. Joanne Lauber was formerly with the MS Section, departed to work in another medical area within the university for several years, and returned in 2018 to the MS Section. She handles many patient care-related matters. She answers questions from patients about symptoms and problems, provides test results, and aids in care of our patients.

Nanette Bladdick – Administrative Assistant. “Nett” joined the MS Center in May of 2005. She handles most incoming calls and appointment scheduling. General questions and appointment requests should be forwarded to her attention. Persons seeking a new patient appointment or consultation should also contact Nett. She may be contacted at our general number, 314-362-3293.

MS Research Coordinators
Investigator-initiated (non-industry sponsored) research:

Dana Perantie – Research assistant to Drs. Naismith and Cross. Ms. Perantie is the coordinator for our Diffusion Imaging research studies. She plans the research visits and assists in the functional testing of research subjects. She can be contacted at 314 747-5576.

Courtney Dula – Research assistant for the DISCO-MS study, which is funded by The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). The goal of this multi-center study is to determine if middle-aged and older persons with MS who have been stable for several years can safely stop their disease modifying treatments. Ms. Dula is the coordinator for several industry-sponsored research studies, as well.

Shannon Sides – Research assistant to Drs Naismith and Cross. Ms. Sides is the coordinator for our gradient echo MRI research studies. She plans the research visits and assists in the functional testing of research subjects. She can be contacted at 314 273-1599.

Amber Smith and Sara Feaman – research coordinators for the North American Registry for Care and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (NARCRMS), funded by the Consortium of MS Centers. This registry is a clinician-based registry and longitudinal database of clinical records and patient outcomes in North America.

MS Clinical Coordinators

Our several other clinical coordinators work primarily on industry-sponsored clinical trials and studies. Go to:

MS Clinical and Research Fellows

Emily Evans MD, Sylvia Lawry Fellow of the National MS Society
Afsaneh Shirani MD, recipient of the Clinician-Scientist Development Award from the National MS Society, and the Clinical Research Training Scholarship from the American Academy of Neurology.
Claudia Cantoni PhD, Fellow of the National MS Society
Francesca Cignarella PhD
Tsen-Hsuan Lin PhD, Fellow of the National MS Society

The MS Laboratory Research Staff:

Robert Mikesell, Laboratory research
Bryan Bollman, Laboratory research
Angela Archambault PhD, Laboratory research

Other Affiliated Professionals

The National MS Society Gateway Chapter
The MS Team of Therapists: PT, OT, Speech and Swallowing, Rehabilitation